NJ Politics Digest: The Trouble With Christie’s ‘Political Shop’

It’s Tuesday, and the as the Bridgegate trial continues, The Record takes a look into the questionable activities of Gov. Chris Christie’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Meanwhile, ex-Christie aide Bridget Kelly remained on the stand in her own defense – trying to explain her role in the political scandal while Christie’s reputation continues to suffer.
Meanwhile, Atlantic City continues to fight to avoid a state takeover of its finances, the Star-Ledger looks at the future of recreational marijuana in New Jersey and congressional races around the state head into the home stretch. For this and all the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day: “It’s beyond obvious that this is not the way a government office should be conducted. From what has been revealed, I would suggest … an investigation into whether that office conducted political activity during state time, using state resources, using state employees to do it. It should have been done,” ,” – Kathleen Wiechnik, former executive director of the State Ethics Commission, on activities in the state Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under Gov. Chris Christie.

Bridgegate trial painting Christie as anything but ‘not a bully’
Governor Christie was adamant during his two-hour apologia news conference on Jan. 9, 2014, when the strange buzz about lane closings to the George Washington Bridge suddenly exploded into a full-blown scandal.
Charles Stile, The Record Read more

Bridgegate testimony offers a peek inside the IGA, Trenton’s ‘political shop’
Of the many nicknames, phrases and code words used by those in Governor Christie’s administration over the years, one cuts to the heart of the charges in the criminal trial of his former associates: ‘the political shop.’
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Top Democrat demands Christie-hired Bridgegate law firm refund $8M to N.J.
A top Democrat said Monday the law firm hired by Gov. Chris Christie to conduct a state-funded investigation of the Bridgegate scandal should refund $8 million to New Jersey taxpayers, saying she is “infuriated” by court testimony contradicting its findings.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Kelly takes the stand again, saying her emails were misinterpreted
As rumors about a political retribution plot persisted, Bridget Anne Kelly’s confidence that the George Washington Bridge lane closings were really part of a traffic study turned to panic as she suspected she was being set up to take a fall.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Bridget Kelly said she deleted Bridgegate emails as governor had ‘memory issue’
The walls were closing in on Bridget Anne Kelly.
She had told her boss, Kevin O’Dowd, the governor’s chief of staff, about what she knew about a traffic study, and about allegations of political retribution involving lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, she said on her second day on the stand.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

How N.J. is protecting the 2016 election from hackers and would-be vote riggers
It’s rigged. Riddled with voter fraud. Vulnerable to foreign hackers.
Right?
S.P. Sullivan, NJ.com Read more

A.C. approves recovery plan, puts takeover ball in Christie’s court
In an effort to prevent a state takeover and live to make another payroll, the city of Atlantic City laid its cards on the table Monday night, approving a 5 year fiscal plan as required by state law that will place the ball back in Trenton’s court.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

5 things that must happen for N.J. to legalize recreational marijuana
Eight state lawmakers ventured out to Colorado last week to see for themselves the impact legalized marijuana has had on the state’s economy, government and public safety.
John Munson, NJ.com Read more

National Democrats launch new push against N.J.’s Garrett
National Democrats are smelling blood in their quest to unseat Rep. Scott Garrett.
NJ.com Read more

Hackensack to seek new city attorney following decision not to discipline Zisa
The City Council has asked City Attorney Alexander Carver to resign after the failure to pursue a disciplinary hearing for former Police Chief Ken Zisa.
John Seasly, The Record Read more

Groups sue to remove PARCC test as graduation requirement
Several New Jersey civil rights and advocacy organizations have sued to stop the state from using exams called PARCC as a graduation requirement, arguing it will prevent disadvantaged students and students who boycott the test from graduating.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Would kids at Christie’s alma mater vote Trump or Clinton?
If it were up to about 2,200 kids in the Livingston public school system, Hillary Clinton would be the next president.
Jessica Mazzola, NJ.com Read more

With Rumana stepping into judgeship, GOP leadership faces off to fill 40th District assembly vacancy
Republicans in the 40th Legislative District are girding for a fight over who will replace Scott T. Rumana, the assemblyman from Wayne who resigned on Thursday following his Senate confirmation to become a judge.
Richard Cowen, The Record Read more

2 Middlesex County towns could be forced to reassess property values
Middlesex County’s board of taxation, singled out by the state for its reluctance to demand municipal revaluations, will order two towns to reassess their properties by the end of the year.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Court: Wall can punish tax assessor
Wall’s tax assessor will face a disciplinary hearing after a Monmouth County Superior Court judge found the township was within its rights to suspend him.
Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press Read more

3 issues debated by 4th district Congressional candidates
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1981, Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Smith touts his decades of experience as the reason voters should again choose him to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of Monmouth County, along with portions of Ocean and Mercer counties.
Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press Read more

Aggressive Challenger in District 2 Makes Trump An Issue
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo might enjoy consistent and overwhelming support in South Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, where the Republican has won every one of his election bids with almost 60 percent of the vote. But that isn’t deterring Democrats from continuing to forward an energetic challenge for the seat this year, believing a contentious presidential election has opened the door to a potential progressive upset.
Chase Brush, NJ Spotlight Read more

U.S. Rep. Watson Coleman visits Trenton home that sickened child with lead poisoning
When Joy Ingram-Robinson’s 2-year-old daughter starting showing signs that she was sick, her mother thought it was because she was a premature baby.
David Foster, The Trentonian Read more

Modest rate increases for some Affordable Care Act plans in N.J.
Price increases for many Affordable Care Act health insurance plans sold on New Jersey’s exchange won’t be as steep as those announced last week for Pennsylvania, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data showed.
Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Read more

After eviction from Holtec site, community health program will reopen in Camden
A mobile needle-exchange program evicted from its longtime location in Camden two months ago may soon resume operating, following an Inquirer article that detailed its shutdown.
Allison Steele, Inquirer Read more

Bayonne mayor to collect nearly $169K in unused time payout
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis will collect nearly $169,000 for more than 1,600 hours of unused sick and vacation time from his time as a city police captain, the city announced.
Jonathan Lin, The Jersey Journal Read more