Christie says Dems need to step up ethics reform

Gov. Chris Christie today took aim at legislative Democrats for what he deemed ethical lapses for lawmakers’ failure to pass legislation to plug holes in the state’s pay to play laws.

At least seven pieces of legislation have sat dormant during the past 18 months that Christie said would have furthered his goal to bolster campaign finance laws and strengthen ethical standards for lawmakers.

Among the bills the governor cites is one introduced nearly a year ago by former Sen. Tom Goodwin that would create uniform standards across all levels of government for the granting of contracts.  Last week, State Comptroller Matthew Boxer slammed pay to play laws governing local governments for being ineffective and riddled with holes.

Among Boxer’s recommendations is to make the pay to play law governing state contractors the standard at all levels of government.  Goodwin’s bill would have adopted nearly all of the changes recommended by Boxer as well as those proposed by Election Law Enforcement Commission Executive Director Jeff Brindle.

But Democrats say the governor has little standing to carry the reformer mantle, given recent statements by Christie saying he will not disclose certain meetings if he deems then to be private.

“It is the height of hypocrisy for Gov. “I do not feel the need to tell the people of New Jersey anything about where I go and what I do” Christie to make any kind of claim on this issue,” said Senate Democratic Spokesman Chris Donnelly.  “But he will say and do anything to avoid the fact that hundreds of thousands of New Jereseyans are jobless on his watch and he has no plans whatsoever to try and fix that.”

Assembly Democrats also took issue with the governor’s attacks, citing what they say are Christie’s own ethical lapses, including a recent report that Christie spoke at a meeting of wealthy conservatives sponsored by the Koch brothers but did not inform constituents or the statehouse press of the event.

“Assembly Democrats who have adopted numerous ethics reforms throughout the years will review the recent comptroller report, but will not be lectured to by a governor who backs secretive fundraising groups formed by his cronies, misuses taxpayer-paid property for personal and political use and travels covertly around the country raising money,” said spokesman Tom Hester.

The bills Christie cites are below:

A278: Ban on dual office holding

A2556: Ban on dual public employment

A1765:Pension forfeiture for convicted public officials

A1340: Forfeiture of campaign funds for convicted public officials

S1497: Prohibits use of campaign funds for criminal defense costs

A275: Prohibition on wheeling of campign funds

S2320: Uniform public contracting standards, elimination of “fair and open” provision in local pay to play law