In the middle of the New Jersey budget battles of June, on a trip that was not previously disclosed, Gov. Christie was the keynote speaker at a gathering of wealthy business owners sponsored by controversial conservative financier David Koch, according to the magazine Mother Jones.
The thrust of the speech, based on a transcript and audio clips obtained by the left-leaning Mother Jones, seems similar to what the governor says to audiences of all political stripes back in New Jersey (including his impression of former Gov. Corzine). But this time Christie delves into more specifics about his call for the federal government to get spending under control – and those specifics could prove to be red meat for state and national Democrats:
"We know the answers. They're painful answers. We're going to have to reduce Medicare benefits. We're going to have to reduce Medicaid benefits. We're going to have to raise the Social Security age. We're going to have to do these things. We're going to have to cut all types of other government programs that some people in this room might like."
It is not known if Christie transferred the governance of the state to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno while he was out of state at the meeting in Vail, Col. Typically, Christie or his press office notifies us when he leaves the state, even if we’re not told where he’s actually going.
Such travels out of state are only likely to continue - as will the New Jersey press corps' contention that we should be made aware of his whereabouts - because the Republican Governors Association announced today that Christie has been elected vice-chairman of the organization, boosting his fundraising and party leadership responsibilities. (The chairman of the RGA, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, disclosed his visit to Koch gathering in Vail at the time).
The general public is largely unaware of David and Charles Koch (pronounced COKE), who own the second-largest privately held company in the country, Koch Industries, an energy and chemical conglomerate. They have reportedly spent more than $100 million supporting conservative causes, including Americans for Prosperity, which bankrolls the Tea Party, and they are adamant opponents of the idea that human activity causes the warming of the planet.
For background, here’s a list of the mega-rich folks who attend these conferences, which was billed as a fundraising and political strategy meeting. Here’s the first part of the Mother Jones story about the conference. And for the seminal piece on the secretive but highly influential and deep-pocketed Koch brothers, check out this story in The New Yorker.