Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie said today that Gov. Jon Corzine's reappointment of three members of the State Investment Council, which has presided over a multi-billion loss in state pension funds, is "another example of a failure of accountability in this state government."
Corzine this week reappointed Jose Claxton, Montgomery Cerf and Erika Irish Brown to the council, which has taken heat from Republican legislators for overseeing the loss of about $25 billion, including a $178 million investment in the failed Lehman Brothers investment firm. The three members who Corzine reappointed took extra heat from state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) for that investment because of their past ties to the firm.
"For seven years as U.S. attorney my job was to make sure people were held accountable to the law.. You have to hold people accountable to the task they're given, and I'd ask whether or not the performance of those folks was laudable, and by reappointing them he's holding them accountable," said Christie in response to a question from PolitickerNJ.com. "I would say no. and the fact of the matter is there are a lot of questions that should be asked before any of these people are reappointed, and I think they should be asked under oath."
All three members have to go through committee hearing and Senate confirmation before their reappointments take effect.
New Jersey Investment Council Chairman Orin Kramer, a nationally prominent Democratic fundraiser, has also faced criticism from Republicans, but has said that the pension funds' losses would have been worse had he not implemented a policy of investment diversification.
Christie stopped short of saying he would shake up the Investment Council's leadership if he is elected.
"I have real concerns. I am upset about the failure of performance of that fund. But if you asked me, if I was governor right now, they'd be in my office answering those questions," he said.