Looks like Gov. Christie may have made a major ethical and legal boo-boo:
A PandoDaily investigation has discovered evidence that Gov. Chris Christie’s pending deal to award a $300 million pension management contract to a controversial hedge fund is in violation of state anti-corruption laws.
New Jersey state pay-to-play statutes prohibit state contractors from directly or indirectly financially supporting the election campaigns of state officials. Those statutes also explicitly prohibit the use of outside groups or family members to circumvent that ban.
Additionally, separate Department of Treasury rules appear to prohibit public pension contracts from being awarded to investment firms whose employees have made significant financial contributions to political entities organized to operate in New Jersey state elections. Those laws also bar investment firms doing business with the state from making contributions “for the purpose of influencing any election for State office.”
Yet, late last month, the New Jersey State Investment Council moved to award a controversial $300 million investment contract to Chatham Asset Management, despite the fact that Chatham’s principal, and a woman living at his address and sharing his surname, donated more than $50,000 to a Republican election group that oversaw major portions of Gov. Christie’s 2013 re-election operation. The proposed investment is already highly controversial given the hedge fund also reportedly owns a stake in the Atlantic City casino, Revel.
On behalf of Gov. Christie, New Jersey Treasury department Chris Santarelli told Pando:
The donations from Chatham Asset Management to the RNC which you have called into question are not in violation of the Department of Treasury rules regarding impermissible political contributions made by funds doing business with the State. It would be a violation of the regulation if the firm or an investment professional of the firm made a political contribution “to a Federal party committee or other political committee or organization for the purpose of influencing State or local elections governed by.”
The purpose of the RNC is not to influence elections in the State of New Jersey and donations to the organization cannot be earmarked for a particular race.
The Christie administration’s statement appears to directly contradict previous statements by the Republican National Committee. Only a few months ago, the RNC openly boasted about “work(ing) alongside the Christie campaign,” and told New Jersey’s largest paper about using hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost the Christie campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort.