NJ Politics Digest: Witness Casts Doubt on Menendez ‘Threat’ Claim

Roundup of daily news.

Bob Menendez Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

A former State Department official said Monday that he didn’t feel threatened by Sen. Bob Menendez when they met in 2012 about a port security contract in the Dominican Republic, downplaying one of the claims made by prosecutors in the senator’s ongoing corruption trial, according to reports.

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Prosecutors have accused Menendez of threatening the official, William Brownfield, with a possible Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing if the State Department didn’t help his top donor, SALOMON MELGEN, with a contract dispute. But Brownfield testified that it would have been difficult to hold a hearing on such a narrow issue and didn’t view Menendez’s remarks as a “threat,” according to the Associated Press.

Down by double-digits in the polls, Kim Guadagno doubled down on enforcing immigration laws, announcing she would ban sanctuary cities in New Jersey if elected governor. She said she would sign a law withholding funds from such communities — a policy proposal that mirrors what President Trump is doing on the federal level.

And Gov. Chris Christie pushed back against comments from another member of the president’s opioid commission that suggested Christie was worried about Trump’s handling of the drug epidemic. Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island told The Washington Post that Christie said if Trump doesn’t recognize the seriousness of the opioid crisis, then “his presidency is over.” The governor said Kennedy’s comments were false.

Quote of the Day: “I hope I’m alive in 2024. Then I’ll decide what I’m gonna be doing for work.” — Gov. Chris Christie when asked if he plans to run for president in seven years.

Guadagno Would Ban Sanctuary Cities in NJ
Kim Guadagno would bar New Jersey cities from adopting “sanctuary” policies, announcing Monday that she would sign a law if elected governor to fine or withhold funds from such communities.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Christie Squabbles With Fellow Opioid Commission Member
Gov. Chris Christie on Monday squabbled with a fellow member of the federal opioid commission he chairs over President Trump’s handling of the drug addiction epidemic.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Bill Clinton to Campaign for Murphy in NJ Tuesday
Former President Bill Clinton is making a campaign stop in New Jersey on Tuesday to stump for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

AP Interview: Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Murphy
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy spoke with The Associated Press on Monday. Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s campaign hasn’t responded to a request from the AP to reschedule an interview, after two previous interviews were canceled. Here are highlights from the interview.
Associated Press Read more

Murphy: Trump threatens voter rights. I’ll massively expand them in N.J.
Democratic nominee for governor Phil Murphy appeared with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday to disclose massive changes to New Jersey voting laws he would implement if elected.
NJ.com Read more

Chris Christie’s Last Fight
This wasn’t how he figured it would end. A year after being steamrolled by Donald Trump, Chris Christie is hobbling out of office as the most unpopular governor in the history of New Jersey—a casualty of scandal and hubris, and a guy freed up to quietly pursue the toughest job of his life.
GQ Magazine Read more

Christie administration and teacher’s union trade blame as health care costs rise
While many Americans brace for higher health care premiums due to uncertainty created by President Trump, thousands of teachers in New Jersey have been notified that they’ll pay more for coverage next year. But the increased costs here have nothing to do with the clashing interests in Washington, D.C. Instead, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is laying the blame on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
The Record Read more

Right and left ally to bash idea of $7B in tax breaks for Amazon
If the political spectrum is seen as a straight line, there might not be too many organizations involved in Garden State politics further apart than New Jersey Policy Perspective and Americans for Prosperity. But if it’s more of a circle or horseshoe, then one of the issues where the two sides converge is the proliferation of tax subsidies the state has awarded in the name of job creation.
NJ 101.5 Read more

Ex-US official: I didn’t view Menendez remarks as a ‘threat’
A former State Department official testified Monday he didn’t feel threatened by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez during a 2012 meeting about a port security contract in the Dominican Republic, casting some doubt on one of the key assertions in the government’s bribery case against the New Jersey Democrat.
Associated Press Read more

Gov. Christie: NJ to buy more flood-prone homes
Gov. Chris Christie, standing between their home and the abandoned house, announced an additional $75 million would go to New Jersey’s Blue Acres program, a $300 million pool of federal disaster recovery money used to purchase such oft-flooded properties and convert the parcels to open space, parks and buffers against future storm surges.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Booker introduces environmental justice bill
U.S Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a bill that aims to protect low-income and minority communities from environmental problems. The New Jersey Democrat’s measure would require federal agencies to strengthen legal protections and to take action through the permitting process against what Booker calls environmental injustice.
Associated Press Read more

Looking for your local candidates’ stand on issues in New Jersey? Good luck with that
Jesse Burns says organized political debates are starting to disappear in New Jersey. “This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to work. Voters should be hearing the positions of the candidates,” said Burns, the executive director of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
The Inquirer Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Witness Casts Doubt on Menendez ‘Threat’ Claim