CHRISTIE CAN’T COMMIT TO KIM IN 2013; LT GOV SAYS NO COMMENT Report by Mark Lagerkvist
Faced with scandal, Gov. Chris Christie may be ready to dump Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno as his running mate in 2013.
When he announced plans to run for a second term, Christie said last week he was unsure whether Guadagno would be on the ticket. The governor claimed he had yet to discuss it with her.
Guadagno subsequently told reporters she has no comment about her future plans.
“I don’t know what she wants, so we’ll talk,” said Christie, quoted by the Star-Ledger. “But I’ll say this, I’ve been happy with what she has done with the job.”
But what cannot please Christie is a $245,000 pension controversy that followed Guadagno from her tenure as Monmouth County sheriff.
False statements by Guadagno in 2008 enabled her chief officer, Michael W. Donovan Jr., to collect nearly $85,000 a year in state retirement pay in addition to his $87,500 annual salary. The story was first reported by New Jersey Watchdog in 2010.
Under state statute, “Any person who shall knowingly make any false statement or shall falsify or permit to be falsified any record or records of this retirement system … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
In May 2011, a state pension board requested a criminal investigation of the Donovan matter. The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice. However, the DCJ investigation is riddled with conflicts of interest:
- Guadagno is DCJ’s former deputy director. She held the post from 1998 to 2001.
- Nearly two dozen DCJ investigators and supervisors are “double-dippers” who collect state paychecks and pensions.
- Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, a Christie appointee, is in charge of the probe of fellow cabinet member Guadagno.
Christie has not publicly addressed the scandal – including the question of whether he should have appointed an independent prosecutor to handle the case. Representatives for Chiesa have not responded to queries about the investigation, which began 19 months ago. Spokespeople for Guadagno have declined comment.
Ironically, one of Christie’s self-proclaimed accomplishments during his first term has been pension reform.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Watchdog has been winning battles in a legal war over records gathered during a state Treasury review of the Donovan-Guadagno pension controversy.
A state appellate judge denied a motion last month by the Attorney General seeking to stop the Government Records Council, another state agency, from reviewing Treasury files requested by the investigative news site.
As a result, Treasury officials must comply with a GRC order to turn over 26 documents for inspection. After review, the Council will determine which documents, if any, should be released to New Jersey Watchdog under the Open Public Records Act.