Tag Archive: OPRA

Thank You for Your Contribution to Christie’s Presidential Campaign

When Chris Christie decided to formally announce he was running for President, the venue was his old high school in Livingston. I became curious as to how the school district was to be reimbursed for the expenses it incurred in hosting that event. So I submitted a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to find out. I wanted to make sure the school district was not providing its facilities at no charge to a presidential campaign.  

Transparency is the “hobgoblin of small minds”

Or so Governor Christie implies as he clutches close to his chest routine information he does not want to reveal while simultaneously dribbling out partial data or just denying OPRA requests.

At a recent “Town Hall” he preened in front of a young boy who asked about his security by revealing that there are 30 members of the Executive Protection Unit assigned to him and six were with him at the event. That sounds like sensitive information he should not provide. However, the security costs which he bills to the state while he travels far and wide are a legitimate concern to constituents, particularly since most of his trips bear little relationship to state business.

After delays Christie finally gave us an incomplete glimpse. The Star-Ledger published an article on Friday indicating that on just “recent trips to Great Britain, Canada and Mexico the troopers’ security and transportation costs totaled $114,275.

A reporter who saw the data told me, “It should include their room and food costs. Basically, it’s everything except their salaries. However, the governor’s office doesn’t give a breakdown of the expenses (other than breaking them down per trip).”  Omitting salary in the report is no small omission, as these individuals are well paid, probably received over-time pay, and there are attached fringe benefit expenses.  

Transparency & The NJSE

On January 15 of this year I attended a “public” meeting of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority after being “tipped” off that they were planning to close the Izod Center in Bergen County. I say “tipped off”, because the public agenda for the meeting did not state they were planning that action.

The Commission members courteously listened to the many members of the public who had also been “tipped off”. and came to ask questions. There were no documents presented to the public (and from my observance none also to the Commissioners themselves). Commissioners then went into closed session and emerged later with a resolution autorizing the almost immediate closing. A majority voted yes, but one of the “No” votes came from Commissioner Leroy Jones who said, Commissioners had not received any information upon which to base a vote, and in fact had been notified only the day before that such an action was going to be taken. Certainly that raises questions of why there were any “Yes” votes with such little information.

Minutes of October and November of this past year state that the Izod was going to have a great 4th quarter. We have prior financial tables from NJSEA showing the Izod generally operating at a profit.

Why is Tough Guy @GovChristie Afraid of This Blogger?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past six years, you know that Governor Christie has mastered the use of social media for his self-promotion. New Jersey taxpayers are funding a platoon of Facebook writers, YouTube videographers, and Twitter posters – not just to provide basic information to our citizens, but to act as an adjunct to Christie’s political handlers.

As a blogger who is partisan, but who tries to understand where the opposite side is coming from, I follow many right-wing politicians and organizations on social media. So I was a bit surprised when I went to Christie’s twitter page and got this message:

You are blocked from following @GovChristie and viewing @GovChristie's Tweets.

It seems odd that Christie doesn’t want me, a New Jersey taxpayer, to see his official state Twitter feed.  (I’m in good company here. Marie Corfield, a persistent thorn in Christie’s side, is also blocked.)

I wanted to find out more, so I submitted a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to the Governor’s office to find out more about how taxpayers are denied access to a Twitter feed that they are paying for.

How much did Chris Christie’s trip to cheer Dallas Cowboys cost NJ taxpayers? OPRA request: filed.

American Bridge has just asked Gov. Christie’s office to produce information about his Texas trip yesterday, where he cheered the Dallas Cowboys in owner Jerry Jones’ private box (where he did this). They’re seeking, among other things, travel records and expense logs for his air and ground travel, state police and trooper usage, private security expenses for Christie and any member of his family with him.

Read the full letter that just landed in Gov. Christie’s office on the jump page.

In this morning’s News Roundup, we highlighted an APP piece by Bob Jordan about Gov. Christie’s failure to account to New Jersey taxpayers how large a bill we’re all footing for his out of state travel, conducted not on NJ business but for his own political gain:

Christie in his political career and while he was U.S. attorney for New Jersey has been known as a big spender but secretive about how much public money is used for his travel.

Christie strayed outside New Jersey frequently over the past year on Republican Governors Association-funded political trips but there’s been no full accounting of costs incurred by New Jersey taxpayers on those trips. Christie has upcoming political trips to Florida, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Iowa and Illinois.

It falls to news organizations or ordinary citizens to spend time trying to get Christie’s front office to cough up that info. Those requests, via Open Public Records Act (OPRA) are frequently met with delay or incomplete response.  Read the full OPRA request – below.