Daily Archives: October 13, 2009

Garden State Equality Snubs Bishop By Donating To Opponents

Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s only LGBTI-rights advocacy organization with an office in District 11’s Asbury Park, has contributed $1,500 to Republican Mary Pat Angelini.

Angelini reported the contribution on her 29-day pre-election general campaign report on October 1, 2009.

Of note, Angelini’s running mate David Rible, stated during last weeks candidate round table with the Asbury Park Press that he would not vote in support of same-sex marriage. He would prefer a referendum on the issue, but if a vote were taken, he would not vote for marriage equality.

Democrats Randy Bishop and his running mate Rick Bolger did not receive a contribution from Garden State Equality.

Bishop was elected to the Neptune Township Committee in 2004 and re-elected to his second term in 2007. He served as mayor in 2008, the third openly gay mayor in New Jersey’s history. The lack of support by Garden State Equality to the Bishop & Bolger campaign is surprising, but their support of their opponents is disturbing.

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Filed under 11th Assembly District, Candidates, Randy Bishop, Rick Bolger

AP: GOP NJ governor candidate’s spending questioned

By ANGELA DELLI SANTI (AP)

TRENTON, N.J. — The Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, who has campaigned on a platform of ethical integrity and cutting government waste, regularly spent beyond federal guidelines on business travel while U.S. attorney, records show.
The newly released travel records show that Chris Christie occasionally billed taxpayers more than $400 a night for stays in luxury hotels and exceeded the government’s hotel allowance on 14 of 16 business trips he took in 2008.

“Generally, U.S. attorneys, assistant U.S. attorneys and all federal staff stay within the government rate,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz. “The government rate is not a suggestion, it’s a guideline.”

Christie said he stayed in more expensive hotels only when cheaper ones weren’t available.

“We always went for government rates first,” he said. “I don’t think there were a lot of stays in five-star hotels over seven years.”

The travel records date to when he was sworn in as U.S. attorney in 2002. They were obtained this week by the campaign of Christie’s Democratic opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine, under the Freedom of Information Act.

The AP has sought the same records, but the request was made later than the one by the governor’s office and hasn’t been fulfilled.

The limits are updated regularly to reflect inflation, seasonal price jumps and other economic realities of business travel, Schwartz said. Federal employees who exceed the allowance are required to explain why, though the justification merely requires an extra layer of approval that is routinely granted.

On trips in 2007 and 2008, his top deputy, Michele Brown, also exceeded the guidelines after Christie approved her requests for rooms in the same five-star hotels where he was booked.

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

A liberal ethics group called Christie’s travel history “astonishing,” noting a stay at the Four Seasons in Washington, one of the city’s best hotels.

“I’m sure he knew better, and he chose to ignore the rules,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There is never a situation where the only available hotel in Washington is the Four Seasons. If you stay there, you’ve chosen luxury and you’ve chosen to ignore the rules.”

The ethics group has also filed a complaint alleging that Christie violated federal law by discussing a possible run for governor while he was U.S. attorney, but federal officials declined to investigate because Christie is no longer a federal employee.

The former federal prosecutor submitted a waiver for the room in Boston, as required. In it, he requested additional lodging expenses because there were no rooms available at the $203 per night government rate “due to a high demand for rooms.”
Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm.

Christie is locked in a tight race against Corzine, an unpopular governor bidding for a second term, and independent Chris Daggett. Christie has campaigned on his record of putting corrupt politicians in jail.

Records turned over so far show Christie exceeded the government lodging allowance on 23 of 30 business trips taken between 2004 and 2008. In some cases, his travel vouchers were approved first by Brown, then certified by a third person. Christie, who was Brown’s supervisor, signed off on her travel, either in advance or when she submitted vouchers, the records show. The vouchers were all certified by a third party.

Christie’s hotel tab exceeded $400 per night on four trips. A night at the Four Seasons in Washington in October 2008 cost taxpayers $475; five nights in London were $401 each for Christie and Brown, the records show.

The federal government policy manual states that employees “must exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on a personal basis.” The guideline says the agency will not pay for “luxury accommodations” or unjustified services.

Democrats were quick to condemn the travel expenses.

“It is outrageous that Mr. Christie made taxpayers foot the bill for his excessive and luxurious travel accommodations around the United States and to foreign countries, while his only job responsibilities were in New Jersey,” said Corzine campaign spokesman Sean Darcy.

Corzine, a wealthy former Wall Street CEO, does not take a salary for being governor and pays for all his own travel, Darcy said.

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Filed under Associated Press, Chris Christie, ethical violations, ethics, Gov. Jon Corzine, New Jersey

My Support For Corzine: It’s About Values

Now that Labor Day has past and the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter and the nights a bit cooler, autumn is in the air, the leaves on the trees are changing color and people are starting to pay attention and notice the change. Another thing people are beginning to notice as summer turns to fall is that campaign season has begun in earnest.

With 18 days to go before Election Day family members, friends, colleagues and people on the street are not only asking who is running for office this year but who they should vote for. This year though, along with numerous local and state assembly seats up for grabs, New Jersey will be electing its governor.

New Jerseyans will have 3 candidates to choose from this year, current New Jersey Governor, Democrat Jon Corzine, is seeking re-election and is being challenged by Republican Chris Christie and Independent candidate Chris Daggett. When I am asked whom I will vote for and why, I am proud to say that I will be voting for Jon Corzine.

Why will I be casting my vote for Jon Corzine? It’s simple really, Jon Corzine best reflects the values that I believe in and that is what I tell others to consider when deciding on who to vote for.

As a progressive democrat, education, health-care, and fiscal responsibility are a few of the values that I hold dear and so does Governor Corzine. We also share a belief in and a desire to stand on our principles whether or not they are popular.

Jon Corzine knows that our children represent our future and that is why he has invested over $1.8 billion since 2006 in education while reducing the overall size of state government. He changed the formula for school funding so that money is more evenly distributed across the state and is increased for special education. He has championed the importance of early childhood education and for his efforts; New Jersey now leads the nation in preschool enrollment.

While the nation argues over health-care reform and whether or not to provide universal coverage to all, Jon Corzine enacted a child health care mandate that according to the governor’s website “expanded NJ Family Care to qualify 80,000 previously ineligible children, bringing the total number of insured kids to more than 570,000. The Governor also expanded access to Family Care for parents of enrolled children earning up to $40,000.”

As New Jersey’s governor, Jon Corzine had the foresight to see the recession coming and put together his own economic recovery and stimulus plan before anyone else, which has place the state ahead of the others in lessening the effects of the current economic recession.

Over the past two years Jon Corzine has reigned in spending and reduced the size of the state budget to become the only governor in the past sixty years to reduce the size of the government. He did this and was still able to increase funds for education and children’s health care.

Property taxes are always a big issue here and a real problem for many individuals. As we all know school taxes make up roughly 55 percent of our property tax bill each year, as governor, Jon Corzine has been able to hold the line on property taxes. Increases in the property tax rate has been slowed to just 3.7 percent in recent years, the lowest it has been in over a decade.

One reason for the slow down in the rise of property taxes has been Corzine’s investments in the education system. Prior to the Corzine Administration, the average school tax levy was 6%. This year, the school tax levy was 2.65%.

Over the past 4 years as governor, Jon Corzine has provided $7 billion of direct property tax relief to the residents of New Jersey; more than any other in history.

Jon Corzine is a governor who has the right priorities and the right set of values for me. He is exactly what New Jersey needs right now – a tested and experienced leader.

It is because he has the courage to do what is right, not what’s just popular at the moment and I believe, he genuinely cares about helping New Jerseyans that I will be voting for Jon Corzine’s re-election on November 3rd.

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Filed under Chris Christie, Chris Dagget, fiscal responsiblity, Gov. Jon Corzine, national recession, New Jersey, NJ FamilyCare, property taxes