NJ Politics Digest: Christie Mum on Sessions’s Tough Drug Plan

Gov. Chris Christie. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gov. Chris Christie, who has made the fight against heroin a centerpiece of his last year in office, is pleading ignorance when it comes to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s plan to come down hard on those charged with drug crimes. On Monday, the governor said he hadn’t read Sessions’s new directive and couldn’t comment on it.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the powerful leader of the House Appropriations Committee, is under fire for tattling on one of the activists protesting him — by writing a note to her boss, a campaign donor.

And a bipartisan trio of lawmakers has gone to court to try to stop Christie’s plan to renovate the state house, a project that they argued could become a “boondoggle” costing taxpayers up to $750 million.

Quote of the Day: “P.S. One of the ringleaders works in your bank!” – Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen

GOP Congressman Frelinghuysen Targets Activist in Letter to Her Employer
The most powerful congressman in New Jersey, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, wrote a fundraising letter in March to a board member of a local bank, warning him that a member of an activist group opposing the Republican worked at his bank.
Nancy Solomon, WNYC Read more

NJ Senators Sue to Stop Christie’s State House Renovation
A bipartisan trio of state senators filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to stop Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to renovate the state house, arguing that it violates spending and debt restraints in the state constitution and puts taxpayers on the hook for up to $750 million.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Christie ‘hasn’t read’ Trump AG memo at odds with his stance on drug sentencing
Gov. Chris Christie declined to comment Monday on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memo that requires mandatory minimum sentences even for non-violent drug offenders.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Democrat Attacks Frelinghuysen Over Bank Employee’s Resignation
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) is coming under fire from a Democrat challenging him in the 2018 midterms.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

N.J. bank in Frelinghuysen letter furor says political activity OK for its workers
News that U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) outed an anti-Trump activist to her bosses at New Jersey’s Lakeland Bank prompted the financial institution to say in a Facebook post that it promotes “our employees’ full awareness and interest in civic and political responsibility.”
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Murphy Pledges More Clean Energy Amid Questions About Pipeline Investments
Phil Murphy’s vast investment portfolio includes dozens of oil and energy companies, and those holdings have become a flash point in the Democratic primary for governor since Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is battling Murphy for the nomination, seized on them during a debate Thursday.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Scutari Unveils Bill to Legalize Marijuana in NJ
A New Jersey lawmaker revealed the long-awaited details of his plan to legalize marijuana on Monday, rolling out legislation to regulate and tax the drug.
JT Aregood, Observer Read more

Are NJ police salaries fair? Cops in high-crime areas get less
Most police officers in New Jersey are earning six-figure salaries before overtime and benefits.
Sergio Bichao, NJ101.5 Read more

Police don’t have a record of Pascrell’s car accident
Last month, when Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, showed up over an hour late to his first town hall meeting of 2017, he blamed the delay on a “fender bender.”
The Record Read more

Former state senator, assemblyman and Edison mayor dies
Former Edison mayor, state senator, assemblyman and longtime Edison Democratic chairman Thomas Paterniti has died at the age of 88.
Spencer Kent, NJ.com Read more

Cory Booker delivers commencement address at UPenn
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is delivering the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania today at 10:15 a.m. Booker will also receive an honorary doctor of law degree today from the university. The Democrat and former Newark mayor was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2013.
The Record Read more

Consumer Advocates Question BPU Scheme
The state’s tentative move to revamp how and when utilities make investments and collect rate increases is being painted by consumer advocates as undermining protections for customers.
Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight Read more

Chiaravalloti tops fundraising efforts in 31st District Assembly race
With less than a month to go until the June primary election, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti has both out-raised and out-spent each of the other Democratic candidates in the 31st Legislative District primary race by more than triple, according to election contribution records.
Corey McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Editorial: Protest Frelinghuysen, compromise your job
So here’s the latest abomination from the laboratories of democracy: If you act against the interests of a U.S. Congressman, he can find out where you work and pressure your employer to confront you – until it becomes so intolerable that you quit your job.
Star-Ledger Read more

Editorial: Christie made NJ Transit worse. Can the next gov clean it up?
The next governor will inherit the third-largest commuter railroad in the U.S., and if there is an operation that will challenge the depths of his or her executive imagination, this is it.
Star-Ledger Read more

EDITORIAL: Expand medical pot program
Advocates for full legalization of marijuana in New Jersey are hopeful that under the next governor their dream will become a reality. But until that time comes — if it comes — officials cannot lose sight of the need to improve and expand the medical marijuana program already in place.
Asbury Park Press Read more