The Bray -- March 31, 2014

Dear Friends --

I wanted to recap some of our recent activities for you.

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Earlier this week, I joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, at Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics for a conversation about her career. Pelosi’s story is incredible, as is her record of working to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. She argued convincingly for the need to promote women in politics and across society, and I was struck by the truth and simplicity of her message: “When women succeed, New Jersey succeeds.” In an oped that I submitted to media outlets across the state, I argue: "Ensuring that women — our mothers, sisters, and daughters — have the same opportunities as their male counterparts is not a political issue. Nor is it a “women’s” issue or a “Democratic” issue. It is a family issue, and an economic issue." I hope you'll give it a read.

One of Governor Christie’s carefully orchestrated town hall meetings in friendly political turf was disrupted by citizens concerned about the governor’s scandals, the New York Times reported. If the governor would address those questions that he's been systematically avoiding, perhaps there would be no need for some to heckle. Then again, maybe he knows the truth would make Garden Staters even more angry. My statement in reaction to Christie’s town hall in Monmouth County is here.

Your wallet feeling lighter? That may be because the governor’s hand-picked attorneys released a report that amounted to a million dollar taxpayer-funded distraction. Because it claims to exonerate the governor even though key players were not interviewed. The Star Ledger called it “baloney”. The New York Times called it a “whitewash”. Others pointed to the sexist comments it contained.  Yep - it’s being billed to New Jersey taxpayers. I put out this statement criticizing the public relations stunt.

And then there was the Governor Christie's long overdue, often combative, and grossly inadequate press conference, on Friday afternoon, which again sought to distract attention from the numerous allegations of administrative wrongdoing. It was 78 days since Chris Christie had his first Bridgegate press conference, during which he talked a lot about his emotions but raised more questions than he answered.

In another statement, I said that we hoped, post-Bridgegate, that the governor would demonstrate a genuine desire to make amends, and cooperate with a real independent investigation. Instead, he chose defiance, diversion and delusion.

Another top Christie appointee, David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has resigned effective immediately. This changes little, and it was almost laughable to hear the governor argue that the resignation was all part of a master plan; that, at 74, Samson was just “tired.” The resignation couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the scandal, could it? Or is it just a coincidence that it came just after the New York Times reported that Samson had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors?

This investigative story provides insight into Chris Christie's "circle-the-wagons" mentality, and profiles two brothers, who also both attended Livingston High School, embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal. Check it out here.

The Star-Ledger ran an interesting opinion piece about the Christie administration’s failure to protect NJ homeowners' rights. It begins: “If Gov. Chris Christie’s administration does only one thing well, it is keeping New Jersey residents waiting. The administration kept New Jersey residents waiting in a massive traffic jam outside Fort Lee last year. Christie kept New Jersey residents waiting 10 months for him to appoint a compliance monitor to oversee Hurricane Sandy recovery funds." The full piece is available here.

Meanwhile, an environmental watchdog group has slammed Christie's proposal for more Superstorm Sandy recovery funds, saying that the plan "conflicts with its own announced projects, ignores known threats, and contains numerous flaws." That story in Mother Jones is available here.

You’ve probably had your fill of Governor Christie’s political shenanigans, but he seems intent on steering New Jersey into a ditch. Here are a couple additional accounts of his bad behavior that merit attention.

* Christie's Crony Pension Plan
As a Star Ledger Editorial highlighted, “When Gov. Chris Christie first steered [Gene Feyl into the position of executive director of the state Highlands Council], it was an obvious case of crony politics -- a parting gift for a loyal Republican soldier... But here’s the icing on the cake: Feyl’s 23 months at the Highlands' helm means he’ll collect a $63,000-a-year state pension for the rest of his life." Talk about hypocrisy! “In his budget address, Christie complained about the burden of public employee pensions on state finances. You’d think he’d be more concerned with his own contributions to the problem.”

* Rosy Revenue Projections
If you needed proof that Christie believes in fuzzy math, here is a Bloomberg story about how his administration’s budget proposal relies on a revenue growth forecast more optimistic than those of all but eight U.S. states.  And, on related matter, as this analysis indicates, the more you earn, the better you like Christie’s economic plan. Shocker.

* Human Trafficking?
The Daily Beast recently published this thorough piece, raising a difficult question about Chris Christie's priorities: Did Christie Go Easy on a Human Trafficker Just to Bust a Small-Time Pol? Chris Christie built his reputation as a crime-fighter. So why did he cut a deal with an accused sex slave ringleader—and send to jail a Democratic mayor, instead? It’s a long story. Read it here.

You can still get your tickets to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s Annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner honoring the legacies of United States Senator Frank Lautenberg and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Phil Thigpen on April 10th. The event will be held in New Brunswick. Buy your tickets today!

Thank you for all you do.


John Currie

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