Romney to join Christie at NJ GOP fundraiser

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is slated to join Gov. Christie at a fundraiser for the New Jersey Republican Party in East Brunswick next month.

The Sept. 10 fundraiser at the Hilton East Brunswick is billed as “Chris Christie’s Birthday Celebration" on an invite from the state party. Tickets run from $150 for general reception to $5,000 for a private reception and $25,000 to sit at a roundtable.

The former Massachusetts governor’s attendance came about because “the governor and Mitt Romney are close friends, have been together on the trail a lot,” said Bill Palatucci, an adviser to Christie and a Republican National Committeeman.

After announcing in October 2011 that he would not be seeking the presidential nomination the next year, Christie endorsed Romney and campaigned on his behalf. Some conservatives later accused Christie of costing Romney a win by praising President Obama in the aftermath of Sandy, days before the election.

In June, Christie attended a retreat with donors that was hosted by Romney in Park City, Utah.

Along with Palatucci, state party chairman Samuel Raia, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick are listed as co-hosts of the East Brunswick fundraiser.

The state party currently has debt from legal fees, at least some of which stem from a federal probe into the George Washington Bridge lane closures. As of June 30, the party had $157,238 cash on hand in its state account and listed $450,768 in debt.

The party also had $340,781 cash on hand in its federal account. Without an advisory opinion, that money likely cannot be used to pay off the debt in the state account, lawyer Mark Sheridan said.

Palatucci said the debt was not a concern: “Lots of state committees carry debt. There was $500,000 of debt when we took over the place in 2010,” he said. “The state party is in very healthy shape.”