Two state Republican leaders are calling on Gov. Jon Corzine to release contributions made by his charitable foundation. PolitickerNJ.com reported on Saturday that Corzine has sought an extension to file his tax returns for the Jon S. Corzine Foundation.
Corzine has faced similar criticisms in past campaigns. During his 2000 U.S. Senate race, Corzine avoided questions about his foundation until political pressure forced him to reveal his contributions. The foundation had donated more than $250,000 to future supporters, including Rev. Reginald Jackson's church, Stephen Adubato's North Ward Cultural Center, Rev. Jesse Jackson's Operation Rainbow/PUSH, and Planned Parenthood. All helped him secure the Democratic nomination in a heated primary with former Gov. Jim Florio.
"Once again, Governor Corzine chooses to hide the ball from the voters. Before they go to the polls, the people have a right to know about where Jon Corzine spreads his millions around the State," said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains), the Republican State Chairman. "For years, he has used his foundation money to buy political chits. Now, before his biggest election, the people deserve the opportunity to see where he's putting his money, and whether he is trying to ‘make problems disappear' and ‘win friends during his election campaign.' Unfortunately, transparency is not a hallmark of the Corzine Administration, and this concealment of his foundation's records is just another example of the Governor's failure to meet his obligations to the people."
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), the Chairman of Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie's campaign, charges that Corzine is using his charitable foundation to influence endorsement. Kyrillos says the governor should "instead of using loopholes to avoid transparency, he must fully disclose the scope of his foundation's gifts and influence."
According to published reports, the foundation contributed over $3.5 million to charity in 2007, including large contributions to African American churches in Newark and Camden. Corzine has also forgiven a $50,000 personal loan to Reginald Jackson, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Council of Black Ministers. Jackson endorsed Corzine this week.
Last year, the New York University Child Study Center had to give up a $2 million state contract after it was disclosed that the Corzine foundation had given them $350,000.
The Corzine foundation has also contributed $1,000 to Newark Public Radio, the parent company of WBGO-FM, the sponsor of the final gubernatorial debate. Corzine went with the small Jazz station over an offer by the New Jersey League of Women Voters debate that would have aired on the ABC network affiliates in New York and Philadelphia (who had offered to pre-empt Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune so the debate could air from 7-8 PM on a weeknight), and NJ 101.5, the state's largest and most politically influential radio station.