Christie Lashes Lawmakers Over Ethics Bills

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Gov. Chris Christie's office that the governor had dinner with Fox News chief Roger Ailes on Sept. 11, 2010.

    Gov. Chris Christie is striking out at legislative leaders.

    On Monday, Christie used his first town hall event since striking a deal with Democratic Legislative leaders on pension and health benefits programs in June to berate them for failing to move his proposals from a year ago to strengthen the state's ethics laws.

    The proposals include bills to keep officials from holding more than one elected post, collecting more than one public paycheck, and to stop the transfer of political donations to circumvent campaign finance restrictions.

    A report by the state comptroller last week found that the state's pay-to-play law does nothing to prevent local governments from steering contracts to politically favored vendors.

    The governor has also called on lawmakers to file the same financial disclosure statements as the executive branch.

    "In 376 days we've done nothing. In this limited area we've done nothing," Christie said. "We look like Washington. We don't want to look like Washington."

    The Republican governor returned to the Democratic Legislature last year a bill that establishes deadlines for filing financial disclosure statements with the state Ethics Commission. Christie issued a conditional veto of the legislation, asking that a provision be added requiring legislators and their senior staff to file a more detailed financial disclosure as required of the governor and executive branch staff.

    "You'll be shocked — shocked — to know that when I added the same changes to the bill that they asked for from me, they still haven't voted on the bill," Christie said, citing comments last year from Senate President Stephan Sweeney in which Sweeney said the proposals would "be thoroughly reviewed and discussed by the caucus" and that there appeared "to be areas of likely agreement."

    Democrats accused the governor of painting with a broad, campaign-colored brush as the November election nears and all 120 Legislative seats are up for election. They said Christie could have worked with them on the financial disclosure bill as it was moving through the Legislature instead of changing it when it arrived on his desk without consulting them.

    They were quick to turn around and criticize him for refusing to release details about all his political travel.

    "It is the height of hypocrisy for Gov. 'I do not feel the need to tell the people of New Jersey anything about where I go and what I do' Christie to make any kind of claim on this issue," said Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for Sweeney.

    Some of the Republican governor's proposals are aimed at Democratic leaders in the Legislature. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver works for the Essex County executive, drawing two public salaries, and Sweeney used to also serve on the freeholder board in Gloucester County, though he has since resigned the post.

    The Republican governor also took direct aim at one of his most vocal opponents in the Legislature, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan, who is from Union.

    The governor's decision to hold the event in Union — Cryan's home turf — wasn't veiled, and neither were his comments about Cryan, who collects public paychecks as a state lawmaker and a county undersheriff.

    "Man, I don't know where he finds the time," Christie said sarcastically.

    Cryan responded: "He should worry about doing his own job effectively before worrying about mine."

    Christie never mentioned Republicans who collect two public checks.