When Gov. Christie flies off to sub-rosa meetings with big campaign contributors, he looks more like a sneak than the straight shooter he wants us to believe he is.
It's even more important that he be forthright about his political fund-raising and travels now that he's taken on the role as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The new job has him helping raise unlimited amounts of money for the group's political campaigns. Some of that money could come from those hoping to influence the governor.
We already know that Christie has a blind spot when it comes to state contractors making political donations that skirt New Jersey's campaign finance laws. His supporters created Reform Jersey Now, a group that pushed his agenda and featured him at a fund-raiser.
It was organized around a loophole in the state's anticorruption laws so it could raise unlimited dollars from unknown donors, some who happened to be lawyers, builders and engineers with hundreds of millions in state contracts. Those vendors would have never been able to ante up the big bucks for political campaigns under state pay-to-play laws.
Reform Jersey's best move towards reform was to voluntarily disclose its donors and cease operations in December 2010. But that didn't end Christie's proclivity to play on the edges of New Jersey's political influence rules.
Christie was caught taking a State Police helicopter on May 31 to meet with Iowa fund-raisers who wanted him to run for president. Less than a month later, he caught a charter to regale billionaires, who also happen to be major political donors. That June 26 conference held outside of Vail, Co., was a secret until the liberal magazine, Mother Jones, published a story and audio tape of the event, sponsored by the oil-refinery billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.
The governor's spokespersons said there was no relationship between the trip, David Koch calling Christie "my kind of guy," and Christie pulling New Jersey out of a regional initiative that charges polluters for emitting greenhouse gases - a move welcomed by the Koch brothers. If there was nothing tawdry about the trip, there was no reason to hide it. Yet he refuses to detail political travel, citing "security" concerns.