Christie: No cap-and-trade pressure from Koch Brothers

CHERRY HILL – Gov. Chris Christie said Monday he was done with the Koch fundraiser story, but the story isn’t done with him.

Christie fielded more questions from the press today about his Colorado speech in late June for conservative icon David Koch. Koch and his brother Charles are industry magnates and leaders of the arch-conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The foremost policy initiative for AFP this year has been advocating for states to withdraw from the federal cap-and-trade program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Christie announced the state’s withdrawal from the program in May, before the jaunt to Vail and his appearance at the Koch convention. But he was asked today whether the Kochs mentioned the issue to the governor out West.

“The Koch Brothers had never brought RGGI up to me,” Christie said. “We never discussed it.”

Sierra Club state director Jeff Tittel said the summer meeting was much less important than the other recently-exposed meeting, in February when Christie went to Koch’s New York office.

“The Governor was very careful in his statement, but will not talk about what happened in New York,” Tittel said in a release. “Pulling out of RGGI, creating the Red Tape Review Group, and calling for regulations stricter than federal standards benefits polluters like the Koch Brothers to the detriment of New Jerseyans.”

Christie was also pressed by media members to explain why all of his out-of-state trips aren’t made public, and how his retreats differ from former Gov. Jon Corzine’s out-of-state stays that Christie attacked on the campaign trail.

“What I criticized the governor about in the campaign was that he was going frequently into New York City and not advising the next in line for succession at the time,” Christie said today. “There was some advisory opinion that said when you go to New York it’s not out-of-state.” In jest, Christie called it a “fascinating report” that he’s still waiting to see the taxpayer return on.

Unlike Corzine who was criticized for not telling the Senate president when he crossed state lines, Christie said he is in constant contact with his lieutenant governor.

“I don’t feel an obligation to tell people where I’m going every day,” he said, like his trip to the University of Delaware to watch a football game on Saturday. “You gotta draw the line somewhere…If it involves my official duties, I’ll advise. I’ll tell somebody.”

Otherwise, he said, “I don’t think the public cares.”

“The person who needs to know is the person who’s in charge when I’m out of state,” he said, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. “There is some zone of privacy here that every governor should have.”

Christie: No cap-and-trade pressure from Koch Brothers