GOP Lt. Gov. candidate Kim Guadagno says that Gov. Jon Corzine's attempt to disassociate himself with now-convicted ex-Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero is a joke.
"Try as he might, Jon Corzine can't hide the fact that he and his family gave $441,600 to Joe Ferriero and his Bergen County Democratic Organization," said Guadagno, the Monmouth County Sheriff and a former federal prosecutor. "Not only did he fuel the activities of a corrupt organization, Governor Corzine failed to take a tough stance when Ferriero was indicted. For Jon Corzine to imply that his considerable and consistent contributions to Ferriero's political operation were simply to elect federal candidates is laughable and isn't fooling anyone."
Ferriero and Corzine were close political allies, although the disagreed from time to time. Corzine backed his current running mate, Loretta Weinberg, for a State Senate seat in 2005, despite Ferriero's strong support for another candidate. And Ferriero played a role in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Corzine's pay to play ban that hampered fundraising for the Bergen County Democratic Organization.
But Ferriero also endorsed Corzine when he ran against Jim Florio in the 2000 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and his support for Corzine in the 2005 gubernatorial race was a pivotal moment in then-Acting Gov. Richard Codey's decision not to seek the Democratic nomination.
Ferriero also held a lucrative position at a state authority whose commissioners are appointed by the Governor: he was the general counsel to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. In 2007, Weinberg said Ferriero had made about $4.5 million in legal fees from that post.
In an editorial today, The Record praised Corzine's Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, for his role in indicting Ferriero.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), the Republican State Chairman, says that Corzine was not among a group of Democrats who called for Ferriero's resignation following his indictment last year.
"The Governor's excuses in yesterday's debate for enabling Ferriero's corruption don't hold water," Webber said. "The Ferriero mess is just another example of Governor Corzine's failed leadership for our State."
Tana Raymond, a Democratic Councilwoman in Garfield who has endorsed Christie, blamed Corzine for facilitatiing Ferriero's "corrupt leadership" with campaign contributions.
"Even as Corzine preached ethics reform in public, his actions enabled the corrupt status quo and completely contradicted his words. It's ridiculous for the governor to attempt to play off his financial contributions to Ferriero as something other than what they actually were – Corzine looking the other way in the face of corruption for his own political benefit," Raymond said.
"Jon Corzine's attempts to distance himself from Joe Ferriero and his political machine in Bergen County are ludicrous," said State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), the Christie campaign chairman. "These denials are transparent and absurd."
The Corzine campaign today continued their call for Christie to join their request for the release of documents related to his seven years as the state's federal prosecutor.
"As someone who publicly champions ethics and transparency, we expect Christie to join us in demanding the release of these records. With just eleven days until Election Day, time is running out for Christie to do the right thing," said Corzine's campaign manager, Maggie Moran.