WASHINGTON -- Six Democratic New Jersey Congressmen have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review the legality of Gov. Christie’s plan to privatize much of the state lottery.
The letter, dated Wednesday, questions a $120 million upfront payment from the Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group, which is set to take control of lottery sales and marketing. The six lawmakers point to a 2008 Department of Justice opinion that said a state should not receive such payments to avoid the appearance of corruption.
“Some have alleged that this arrangement appears to fall short of the test for compliance with (the Department of Justice’s) interpretation of the law,” the letter says. “We ask you to provide guidance on the legality of this arrangement in order to avoid costly legal challenges should it be deemed unlawful in the future.”
UPDATED: The Christie administration issued this response Wednesday afternoon, via Treasury spokesman William Quinn:
“The contract was fully vetted by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and its outside legal specialists, and we have every confidence that it meets all legal requirements, including those of the Department of Justice.”
The Communications Workers of America has campaigned against the deal and vowed sue. Roughly half of the lottery’s 135 jobs are in jeopardy because of the privatization. Democrats have also been heavily critical of the Republican governors’ plan.
The congressmen asked for “an expedited” review given the speed with which the lottery plan is moving ahead.
The letter is signed by South Jersey’s Rob Andrews, as well as congressmen Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne and Albio Sires.