The inevitable finally happened: a head-on collision between fierce political foes Gov. Chris Christie and NJ Police Benevolent Association President Pat Colligan.
Seizing on national security worries to paint himself as the law and order candidate in the presidential contest, Christie set himself
up for criticism from a long-critical Colligan, who is unhappy about cuts made by Christie to public pensions, routinely citing the former U.S. Attorney’s 2009 campaign promise that he wouldn’t touch police pensions.
On Monday, Christie shot back on the trail in Concord, New Hampshire.
“It’s because he’s a pension pig, that’s why,” the Republican presidential contender told a reporter in reference to Colligan and the PBA prez’s criticisms. “That’s all it’s about and you know that. That’s exactly what it’s all about. He’s a pension pig. That’s what it’s always been about. It’s about feeding at the trough as much as he possibly can. That’s what they’ve always been about. Rank-and-file law enforcement men and women have voted for me in overwhelming numbers in both my elections in New Jersey. And they’ll vote for me again as Governor because they know that in the things that matter the most to them—the things that matter the most to them—that I stand up with them.”
Colligan issued a statement in response.
“The Chris Christie the people in New Hampshire saw today is the same one our members have been dealing with for the past six years,” the PBA Prez said. “This is a man who has proven time and again he will say and do whatever it takes to claw his way to the next political position. Six years ago, in his first campaign for governor, he sent a letter to rank and file officers throughout New Jersey promising that he would never harm their pensions. That was a lie.
“The sad fact is that Chris Christie has been representing himself as a qualified lawman to the people of New Hampshire when the reality is that he was simply one of the biggest money bundlers for George W. Bush before he was appointed to be U.S. Attorney. Now he thinks that putting together a press event, attacking me and lying again about his broken promises on our pensions will somehow convince police officers across the country that he has their best interests at heart. He does not. Over the past six years, the policies implemented in Trenton have driven thousands of officers to retire, led to hundreds of officers being laid off and left thousands of officers in danger in understaffed and underfunded departments throughout New Jersey.
“Unlike the governor, I was on duty today in New Jersey and, like most days, I was wearing a badge and a gun. Also unlike the governor, I will work a full career, never miss a pension payment, and never fail in my oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and the public. Through his name-calling and lies, Chris Christie showed once again today that he can’t make that same statement.”
In his comments on the trail, Christie argued that he’s the person who’s tried to repair their pension system for police, after years of neglect and mismanagement and broken promises.
“Right now, the police and fire system in New Jersey, since we made the reforms, are now approaching over 70 percent fully-funded, which would allow them to return to giving themselves cost-of-living adjustments, if that’s what they choose to do,” said the New Jersey governor. “That would not have happened if not for the reforms that we made in 2011. Listen, never be fooled by that union leaders necessarily represent the points of view of their members, and that’s particularly true in New Jersey, when those guys spend more time in Trenton and in the Statehouse than most legislators. The last time that guy strapped on a gun and tried to defend somebody was quite a long time ago. If he wants to be a politician, that’s fine, he’ll be treated like a politician.”