Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is Chris Christie Violating Federal Election Laws?

Cross-posted from Blue Jersey

What’s the difference between Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin? Both have exacerbated their state’s deficits by giving tax breaks to millionaires while placing the burden of balancing the budget on the middle class. Both have made draconian cuts to services to the the poor, vulnerable, and senior citizens. Both have treated public servants with disdain. But there is one main difference. Governor Walker has been more effective in harming his state because he has a Republican majority in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature. Despite the fact that in New Jersey, many of the majority Democrats are DiNOs (Democrats in Name Only) and, like the national Democrats, have not shown the courage to stand up to the GOP’s destructive agenda, at least there are some in the legislature who are trying to put the brakes on Christie’s policies.

This November’s elections will be critical. Listen to this short video of Chris Christie’s threat to New Jersey, and then continue on.

As bad as things are in Trenton today, if Christie gets his way, we will be heading down the path to become another Wisconsin.  Wisconsin voters have had their rude awakening and realize the mistakes they made in the last election. Legislative recall efforts are underway and it appears that some of them will be successful. Whether or not this will take away Republican majorities in one of both of their chambers is yet to be seen. Do we want New Jersey to go through the same trauma?

If New Jersey’s legislature flips to GOP control, or even if the compliant Democrats succumb to the uncompromising GOP, the Garden State, its workers, and its citizens will suffer the same fate as those in the Badger State. That’s why it’s important to proactively support progressives like Jeff Gardner and Marie Corfield, who can join the “good” Democrats in Trenton like Senators Weinberg and Buono, and Assembly members Greenwald and Lampitt in attenuating the damage being imposed by the governor and his ilk.

The video that you just saw was taped at one of Governor Christie’s “town halls.” These events are funded by the taxpayer and are not inexpensive. As Pick’s Place points out, the supposedly open meetings have carefully chosen audiences. There’s dozens of uniformed and plain-clothed security people at these events, with their complement of earpieces and black SUVs. There’s a taxpayer-funded videographer to save Christie’s half-truths and outright lies for posterity. There’s the theatrics of Christie on a stage with robot-like doting supporters in the background, with doe-like eyes watching his every move. There’s the dramatic moment after he delivers his remarks and removes his jacket to answer questions from his hand-picked supporters. If by chance an opponent makes it to the front of the questioner’s line, there’s the inevitable glee from the governor when he can generate another YouTube moment to use in his campaign. And there’s the scripted reference to his Constituent Relations staffer to make the event appear to be non-political.

I’m no expert on election law, but these events appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law prohibiting use of taxpayer funds for electioneering. When the governor spouts out political talking points and does not listen to constituents, his intent is obvious. He does not discuss policy, nor does he go over pros and cons. It’s just a way that he gets a 15 second sound byte on the evening news and generates fodder for his political ambitions - all at taxpayer expense. This abuse of power by a Rove acolyte is not surprising, but is wrong. When will the Federal Election Commission investigate and put a stop to this waste of taxpayer money?


  1. Yeah, we definitely need a law to prevent Republicans from speaking in public.

  2. Republicans can speak all they want in public and on their Fox "News" channel. But using taxpayer-funded events, like Christie does, to campaign for a Republican legislature, is illegal.