Stung by Sen. Nicholas Asselta's depiction of him as a defender of privatizing New Jersey's toll roads, Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew fought back today with what he described as "shocking information" that Asselta once voted to lease public toll roads.
But Van Drew’s response suggests that he hadn't done his homework, according to Asselta.
“Yet one more time, Jeff isn't leveling with the residents of the First District,” said Asselta. “The bill I supported in 1999 — along with 106 other members of the legislature, of both parties – was an exceedingly small authorizing bill that allowed the State Treasurer to enter into structured financing agreements regarding state assets 'that are associated with certain benefits that have value to private sector parties but that have no value to a government entity' – meaning, in other words, NOT the toll roads.
“For Jeff to equate my vote in 1999 with his vote in 2008 to give the Governor a blank check to pay legal and financial and engineering consultants in preparation for the sale or lease of the toll roads isn't merely to compare apples to oranges – it's to compare apples to footballs. The two just aren't even close.”
According to Van Drew, who is challenging Asselta for his 1st district senate seat, Asselta in 1999 voted for a law enabling the state to turn over a portion of its interest in land, buildings, air rights – and, a gleeful Van Drew pointed out in the release – state highways and roads.
"Once again this speaks to competence and integrity," Van Drew said. "How can Nick be opposed to a budget which contained language for the study of how to effectively use state assets when he already voted to allow leasing assets? Maybe this is why he was silent during the budget hearings."
Asselta had chastised Van Drew for voting in favor of the budget this year, which included a request from Gov. Jon Corzine to the legislature for money to study the feasibility of asset monetization, or leasing toll roads to private entities in exchange for a lump sum to patch a hole in the state budget.
Asselta said Van Drew should have voted against the budget that included the vague study provision, as Asselta did himself.
Van Drew shot back today, "How can he defend voting against tax relief, municipal aide, school aide, tourism funding, and beach replenishment because of language to study something he has already clearly supported.
"This legislation that he voted for goes way beyond a study," Van Drew added of his opponent’s 1999 vote.