TRENTON – New Jersey Democrats say Gov. Chris Christie’s town hall meetings are partisan events, not governmental meetings – and they want the State Ethics Commission to investigate.
The chairman of the New Jersey Democrat State Committee, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, described Christie’s use of a Republican-funded video at one of his recent town halls as “the final straw” over the debate of whether the governor’s signature events are political or just regular government activities.
Democrats, Wisniewski says, have long argued that the governor has pushed the boundaries of state statutes regarding engaging in political activity during work hours.
Now, Democrats are asking the State Ethics Commission to investigate whether Christie violated the law by showing the Republican-backed video at a taxpayer-funded event.
“We’ve been saying that all along, but obviously it’s the kind of statement that the (governor’s) front office has rebutted,” Wisniewski told PolitickerNJ.
“By using a Republican National Committee video at what he has been claiming to be a governmental town hall meeting is the final straw,” he said. “It is clearly evidence that the governor uses these meetings as partisan events.”
The letter, which was dated Sept. 24, came after Christie used a video produced for his appearance at the RNC last month during his Sept. 13 town hall in Howell.
The governor’s office responded shortly after the September town hall by saying that the video, which was used to introduce the governor in Tampa for his keynote address, was biographical – not political.
“We don’t see the video as anything but biographical in nature, but we get how it can be viewed and won’t be using it at town halls,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said following the event.
The administration’s decision not use the video in the future is further proof they overstepped, Wisniewski said.
“Obviously they recognize the error,” he said. “He’s increasingly extending the boundaries of propriety here.”
Responding to a request for comment on the chairman’s recent letter, Drewniak accused Wisniewski of “being petty.”
“He should be worried about cleaning up his corrupt Middlesex County political machine with its secretive PACs and blatant subversion of pay-to-play laws. I mean, he is concerned about that, right?” Drewniak responded.