BRIDGEWATER – Gov. Chris Christie said published reports on Middlesex County Democrats’ reliance on political action committees (PACs) disturbed him, and called on State Democratic Party Chairman John Wisniewski to get in front of a microphone and answer questions about his role.
“I’m disturbed by what I’ve read,” said the governor, after delivering a report on his trip to Israel to a roomful of Jews at the Jewish Community Center here.
Christie referred to a report today in the Star-Ledger in which Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni raised questions about engineer CME’s meeting with a port official in search of work. CME is a big donor to Wisniewski. A day after the engineer met with the official, the Port Authority received an invitation for an official to testify before the Assembly Transportation Committee, which Wisniewski chairs.
Baroni questioned the timing.
“I hope Assemblyman Wisniewski is not using his power to punish the Port Authority,” said Christie.
“He has to come behind a microphone and answer all the questions about the PACs,” he added.
CME has given thousands of dollars to the Middlesex-based PACs, one of which is run by Wisniewski’s former chief of staff.
Christie said Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway – who is in charge of the county Democrats’ fundraising arm – needs to answer the same questions.
“They have some questions that should be answered,” said the governor. “Maybe he (Wisniewski) could get himself behind a microphone and address the use of PAC money and his position.
“I can only express my concern about it,” the governor added. “I will say, I’m not surprised to see that coming out of Middlesex Democrats. It is generally a corrupt organization.”
Wisniewski released a statement today vigorously denying Baroni’s linkage of the Port Authority’s meeting with CME reps to the next-day invite from the transportation committee.
“I am outraged that the Port Authority’s Deputy Executive Director, who makes nearly $300,000 a year from toll payers, would refer to having to answer questions about well-documented mismanagement at his agency as a ‘shakedown,’” Wisniewski said. “No amount of political mudslinging will keep me from doing the job I was elected to do. The Port Authority has to account to the public as to why it has approved 50% toll and fare hikes, misled the public about the justification for those hikes and been called a ‘challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership’ by external auditors.”