Republicans prepare for legal challenge to obtain Corzine/Katz e-mails

GOP State Chairman Tom Wilson is calling on Gov. Jon Corzine to release any state business related emails he made from his personal email account, and is threatening to sue if Corzine does not comply.

An ethics advisory panel issued a 37-page report today regarding the state's negotiations of a contract for state workers with the Communications Workers of America union.

Wilson wants access to the emails to see if any correspondence occurred between Governor Corzine and state workers’ Union CWA 1034 President Carla Katz, which Corzine’s office contends never happened. Wilson claims that the two have undisclosed financial ties, and that Corzine may have tried to use his influence in favor of Katz during the union’s contract negotiations with the state.

“The assertion that neither the Governor nor his staff have corresponded with Ms. Katz regarding official State business during the Governor’s term in office strains credulity,” Wilson’s lawyer, Mark Sheridan, wrote in a letter to William C. Brown, a lawyer for the Governor’s office.

But Democratic State Committee Chairman Joe Cryan hit back, citing a report by the State Ethics Committee that absolved Corzine of wrongdoing and noting that all financial transactions between Katz and Corzine were before the Governor took office.

Corzine has refused to allow state Republicans to look at his or his staff’s personal email accounts. Wilson claims that this is in violation of a previous ruling by the Open Public Records Council.

“If the Governor continues to stonewall in direct opposition to the precedents of the Open Public Records Council, we will take our case to court,” said Wilson.

The ethics report’s authors, however, did have access to those emails, according to Cryan.

“This matter is now closed,” said Cryan. “Those who are preoccupied with the personal emails of others should now log off.”

The report, written by former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel O'Hern, a Democrat, and former state Attorney General John Farmer, Jr., a Republican, suggest that since Corzine made no payments to Katz, his former girlfriend, since becoming Governor, his gifts do not trigger the Governor's Code of Conduct.

"It is equally clear, however, that the Governor, in his handling of the CWA negotiations, did not allow his relationship with Ms Katz to compromise his judgement," O'Hern and Farmer wrote.

Republicans prepare for legal challenge to obtain Corzine/Katz e-mails