After tremendous public outcry, a package of bills that sought to change current ethics laws to allow Governor Chris Christie to profit from a book deal while in office and bankrupt newspapers by eliminating the printing of legal notices was defeated when Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate failed to put up the bills for a vote on Monday.
CWA and our progressive partner NJ Citizen Action were at the Statehouse in Trenton lobbying legislators around-the-clock, giving legislators back scratchers to urge them to vote no on Christie’s “back-scratching” backroom deal.
Christie’s book deal bill also sought to give pay raises to legislative aides and many of Christie’s cabinet members and appointees. The New Jersey Legislature had fast-tracked the backroom deal within a week, introducing it last Monday and passing it out of the Assembly and Senate committees on the following Thursday. Final votes on the legislation were scheduled for Monday.
CWA along with other labor unions, environmental groups, and community advocacy groups spoke out against the backroom deal in committee. “We greatly understand what it’s like to go a decade or more and have your actual take-home pay decrease,” testified Seth Hahn, CWA NJ Political Director in committee. “To tie it to personally enriching one public official whose family made [$913,000] last year, to our members it’s beyond the pale and they can’t understand it.”
“This is not only a deal that is reprehensible and bad for New Jersey, it is a deal that also undermines our democracy,’ said CWA NJ Director Hetty Rosenstein in a press conference. “These bills are being pushed through fast enough so that the public does not get a whiff of the stench of crony capitalism.”
Watch a video from the press conference on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cwanj/videos/vb.191773254168057/1438216879523682
While the NJ Legislature will not reconsider the book deal bill, in a statement the Governor vowed to continue to push his newspaper-killing proposal after the holidays. Great work by our progressive partners and all who called and emailed their legislators to stop these bills. The fight for democracy continues!