Calling the ruling an “affront to open and honest government,” State Republican Party Chairman Tom Wilson this afternoon personally responded to a state appeals court judgment that Gov. Jon Corzine doesn’t have to release his email transmissions with former girlfriend and labor leader Carla Katz.
Wilson’s suit had sought the opposite ruling, but he vowed to fight on if the governor doesn’t comply with what Wilson said is simply the right of the public to know.
“From the outset, Jon Corzine hasn’t been honest about his relationship with Carla Katz and today’s ruling makes it clear that Katz and Corzine did, in fact, talk about the contract negotiations despite Corzine’s claims that he didn’t,” said Wilson of the governor’s emails with the former local president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) who negotiated a state workers contract withCorzine's administration.
“This matter comes down to the right of the people to decide for themselves whether or not the back channel communications between Katz and Corzine inappropriately influenced Corzine’s actions,” Wilson said.”This matter comes down to transparency in government, to accountability, and to integrity.
“Today's decision is an affront to open and honest government,” he added. “It guts the Open Public Records Act and allows the Governor to conduct his business – the people's business – in total secrecy, free from scrutiny. It reverses the basic premise of OPRA, which is that transparency in government is the standard and exceptions are made only when government can provide a good reason why the public shouldn’t get to see how their business is conducted.”
Taking Corzine’s central counter argument thatthe governor'sappeal wasfor theright to protect executive privilege for himself and future governors and not an attempt to hide what Wilson described as “back-channel communications with Carla Katz,”then today's decision frees him to release the emails,the chairman said.
“Today, I renew my offer of compromise to Governor Corzine giving him a way to uphold his often spoken commitment to transparency and honest government, while still protecting the executive privilege he claims to be to be fighting for,”Wilson said. “If the Governor agrees to turn over the documents which were ordered by Judge Innes to be produced, then I will forego an appeal of this matter. If Corzine refuses to disclose the emails and prove that this fight was about anything more than protecting his political interests, then I will appeal today's decision to the Supreme Court.”