NJ Politics Digest: Trying to Put a Good Spin on News of Trump’s Tax Returns

It’s Monday, the start of a new week in the Bridgegate trial, a week that will likely bring us new answers in the Hoboken train crash and more drama in the race to pick a new governor in 2017. But today, all eyes are focused on The New York Times report on Donald Trump’s leaked tax returns, and the way New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other Trump allies have spun the news.
Also, yet to be seen, is the Monday morning reaction to the Friday evening announcement that a bi-partisan deal has been struck to hike the state’ gas tax by 23 cents. So far, few lawmakers have spoken out against the plan. For all this and the rest of what’s going on in state politics, read on.

Quote of the Day: “There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver about the tax code as he rightfully used the laws to do that,” said Gov. Chris Christie, responding on how Donald Trump might have been able to avoid paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades, and how that qualifies him to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Source: Agency found NJ Transit violations before crash
Federal rail officials found dozens of violations during an audit focusing on New Jersey Transit’s safety and operations, months before a commuter train crashed, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 others, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Associated Press Read more

Investigators don’t know why Hoboken train was speeding, Christie says
One question about the NJ Transit train crash yet unanswered is why the train was speeding when it entered Hoboken Station, Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Christie, Giuliani: If Trump didn’t pay taxes, he’s ‘genius’
A report that Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss in 1995 and could have avoided paying any federal income taxes for the next 18 years shows his “genius” using the tax code, Governor Christie said Sunday.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Christie calls Trump tax report good news for campaign
Gov. Chris Christie said reports that Donald Trump was able to claim $1 billion in business losses highlighted his ability to fulfill his campaign promise and overhaul the U.S. tax code.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found
Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.
David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Megan Twohey, New York Times Read more

The Time I Found Donald Trump’s Tax Records in My Mailbox
My colleagues make fun of my old-fashioned devotion to my mailbox.
It’s about 30 feet from my desk—among all the other third-floor employees’ mailboxes—and I check it constantly, always hoping a tipster will have sent me some revealing letter or secret document.
Susanne Craig, New York Times Read more

Fulop: ‘I made the right decision’
Jersey City is still in shock four days after Mayor Steve Fulop abruptly dropped his unofficial gubernatorial bid.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Christie has final say on bill offering unemployment to striking workers
With an Assembly vote Thursday, the Legislature sent Gov. Chris Christie a bill allowing striking workers to collect unemployment benefits.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Chris Smith shunned Christie but not Trump
Rep. Chris Smith, a top anti-abortion advocate in the House, has taken a leadership role in helping to elect Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who formerly supported abortion rights and praised Planned Parenthood.
The Auditor, NJ.com Read more

Beck remains opposed to gas tax, other NJ politicans silent
Republican state Sen. Jennifer Beck stands firm in her opposition to an increase in New Jersey’s gas tax but many Republicans appear ready to vote in favor.
Dan Alexander, NJ101.5 Read more

Will NJ Republicans fight the proposed gas tax hike?
It’s time for round three in the battle of the proposed gas tax hike in NJ!
On a Friday night, our New Jersey legislators are trying to sneak one past us by agreeing on a 23-cents per gallon gas tax hike. The plan is to hike the gas tax in exchange for an eventual less than 1 percent break on the sales tax—a break that the Democrats could easily undo as soon as Christie’s out of office. Hiding it under the guise of “tax fairness,” with a “gradual” drop in sales tax from 7 percent to 6.875 percent on Jan. 1, 2017 and then to 6.625 on Jan. 1, 2018.
Bill Spadea, NJ101.5 Read more

7 things you need to know about N.J.’s 23-cent gas tax hike deal
Gov. Chris Christie and Senate and Assembly leaders on Friday announced a deal to end a months-long impasse over transportation funding and raise the gasoline tax 23 cents a gallon.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

‘Chris Christie’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ Trump-Clinton ‘Family Feud’
Bobby Moynihan whipped out his go-to “Jersey Strong” Chris Christie impression during the Saturday Night Live season premiere this weekend for a round of “Celebrity Family Feud.”
Amy Kuperinsky, NJ.com Read more

N.J.’s Booker targets voter-ID laws Trump champions

While Donald Trump warned of a “rigged” election without voter identification laws, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said calling fraud at the ballot box a serious problem was “a patent lie.”
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

No regard for true impact of GWB plot
The news pouring into the Port Authority on Sept. 9, 2013, about Fort Lee’s traffic chaos was alarming.
Charles Stile, The Record Read more

Bridgegate trial: An inside look at the biggest legal show in N.J.
The line to Courtroom 5C most mornings stretches far down the marble hallway.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate witness: A loyal Christie soldier? Or self-serving braggart?
As mysterious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge came under heightened scrutiny by the news media and state lawmakers in late 2013, David Wildstein told a close friend he wanted to fall on the sword to try to kill the story.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

Bridgegate: What happened in Week 2
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

The worst kept secret—Bridgegate
In state government, gossip and rumors spread faster than crab grass in the spring. Even if—as Christie has insisted—he was never told about the Bridgegate plot to tie up traffic on the anniversary of 9/11 and the first week of school, the widespread skepticism of his proclaimed lack of awareness is not surprising.
Carl Golden, The Record Read more

Christie envisions future on town-hall fringes: “I’m Chris from Mendham”
Just because he can’t run for governor again next year doesn’t mean Gov. Christie will be giving up the town-hall circuit.
Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Read more

The New Jersey woman who beat Obama on the 9/11 bill
Terry Strada sounded exultant the day after watching Congress deliver President Obama the first veto override of his eight years in office, thanks largely to her efforts.
Brian J. Tumulty, USA Today Read more

Advocates Clash With Administration Over Number of Poor in NJ
Jessica Abreu was recently working as a shelter supervisor at the Passaic County Women’s Center when a victim of domestic abuse came to her seeking help. She had just lost her housing, Abreu said, and wanted to apply for emergency assistance from the state.
Chase Brush, NJSpotlight Read more

NJ tightens reins on emergency aid to the needy
A Mercer County woman had been navigating an abusive relationship for years. Her partner beat her on numerous occasions, but when the violence descended on their child, the woman left.
Payton Guion, Asbury Park Press Read more

Morris legislator acts to legalize marijuana
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) is known as one of the more conservative members of the New Jersey Legislature. But to put it bluntly, he leans to the left on the subject of legal marijuana.
William Westhoven, Daily Record Read more

Bergen light rail in line for rebirth
Elected leaders in eastern Bergen County on Saturday cheered the news that the long-delayed extension of light rail service into Bergen may finally happen, thanks to the unexpected deal in Trenton to raise the gasoline tax by 23 cents a gallon to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
Christopher Maag, The Record Read more

New Jersey coast to get disputed, long-delayed sand dunes
Almost four years after Superstorm Sandy pummeled his neighborhood so badly that Britain’s Prince Harry had to stop by for a look at the damage, Paul Jeffrey is ready to sleep soundly again.
Associated Press Read more

Opinon: N.J. residents owe $15k per person in pension debt. Compromise is the only fix.
New Jersey residents have absorbed so much bad news about our state government pension fund that they don’t need much more to convince them the situation has become critical.
Steven Malanga, Star-Ledger Guest Columnist Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Trying to Put a Good Spin on News of Trump’s Tax Returns