New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday lashed out at a state senator who is a frequent critic for collecting a pension and salary at the same time. His remark that the media should "take the bat out on her" has raised eyebrows.
A New Jersey state senator on Thursday called on Gov. Christie to "stop bullying," a day after he suggested the media "take the bat out on her."
The governor's press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said people are overreacting.
The dispute between Christie and State Sen. Loretta Weinberg began when Weinberg, a Democrat who represents part of Bergen County, criticized the governor for being slow to condemn an ally over a case of so-called double-dipping.
Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, a Democrat who has been pushing for givebacks from unions in his county, was found by The Star-Ledger of Newark to be drawing a pension payment of $5,000 a month while he continues to get a six-figure salary for the same job.
But Weinberg has also revealed she is also a double dipper.
Weinberg draws a part-time legislative salary of $49,000, and at age 76, is long past the age when most people begin drawing their pensions. In addition, her pension is for a 35-year career as a bureaucrat, not any of her time as a legislator.
Christie went after her at a Wednesday news conference.
"I mean, can you guys please take the bat out on her for once? I mean, here's a woman who knows she did it, yet she comes to you and is pining about 'Oh, my goodness how awful this is,'" he said.
Christie's spokesman said in an email that Christie "didn't mean take a bat to and hit an old lady, of course."
"We are on the receiving end of way too many 'brick bats,' why not Loretta who is notoriously partisan -- and hypocritical?" Drewniak wrote.
Weinberg told NBC New York she was "not intimidated, but mortified."
"Words do matter," she added.
Asked if she wanted an apology from Christie, Weinberg said: "I'm not going to hold my breath, but he owes the people of New Jersey one."
A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll of 773 registered voters showed 32 percent of those responding consider Christie to be a bully, while 62 percent consider him stubborn. The poll was conducted March 27 through April 4 and had a plus or minus 3.5 percentage point margin of error.
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