At a 2009 lieutenant governor debate, Democratic State Sen. Loretta Weinberg faced off against independent Frank Esposito and the ultimate winner, Gov. Christie's running mate and now lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno. The debate was at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. (AP Photo / Asbury Park Press, Thomas P. Costello)
SAYREVILLE - The gov teed off on Christie Nemesis/Democratic Senator Loretta Weinberg today at a town hall meeting, referencing two points in my story today (here) about a bill Weinberg introduced to force notification when Christie leaves the state.
Weinberg wants to know where and when Christie is leaving Jersey because it was recently revealed that he went to a secret meeting of deep-pocketed conservatives without putting the trip on his public schedule. Christie is taking a lot of political trips these days as the vice-chair of the Republican Governors Association and the Dream Presidential Candidate No. 1 for mainstream Republicans.
Democrats want to know who the gov is meeting with and whether that's influencing public policy. (And they want location specifics to better hammer him in press releases for being out-of-town and out-of-touch.)
Weinberg's proposal would mandate that legislative leaders be notified whenever Lt. Gov. Guadagno is designated to take over. The notification would happen a full day before the successor is given the oath of office.
Two problems, as my story pointed out: Lt. Gov. Guadagno doesn't take an oath of office when Christie leaves the state. The state constitution doesn't mandate it. And second, according to 26 letters we got this week, Christie's lawyer already writes a letter to legislative leaders when he's out of town overnight (although this has been inconsistent).
"If she just asked those questions," Christie said at the town hall, "she wouldn't have put in this idiotic legislation that she put in. But you know why she put it in, because they don't want to deal with these real issues."
Those real issues? A package of year-old ethics proposals that Christie began pushing this week. But is Weinberg's bill - which, at its core, demands more transparency - something of an ethics bill, too?
Dems say yes. Here's Tom Hester, Assembly Democrats spokesman: "This governor preaching on ethics is laughable. New Jerseyans know that someone who travels secretly around the country to raise money, endorses the efforts of covert conservative groups and uses taxpayer-paid state police property for personal and political use cannot be taken seriously.”