TRENTON - Inside the Statehouse on Wednesday, Gov. Christie's office formulated a scathing response to revelations that millions of tax dollars pay for government employees to do work for their unions.
Meanwhile, across the street, leaders of the state's largest union were reviewing a tentative contract agreement, OKd by Christie, that continues the very same practice: paying workers to do the union's work. In fact, in the first year of the new contract, there is to be more of that than before.
The agreement belies the statement Wednesday from Christie's spokesman, Michael Drewniak, who said the findings by the State Commission of Investigation shed light on an "egregious practice and abuse of taxpayer dollars" that Christie has railed against since he took office.
Drewniak added: "This shady, often-hidden public subsidy of union leave from paid public employment costs us all millions every year and must end. It's just another rip-off of the taxpayer."
Asked Friday how this jibed with the new contract, Drewniak said his statement referred to the totality of the report's findings, including revelations that some union officers were on paid leave for decades and taxpayers sometimes ponied up for union officers' cars and computers.
Regardless, Christie's office last week found itself agreeing to paid leave even as it was lambasting paid leave. The moment illustrated the tricky balance and frustrating limitations for a governor in a labor-friendly state who's worked his way to the short list for the Republican vice presidential nomination in part by taking on public unions.