By David Cruz
Controversy continues to swirl around Gov. Chris Christie as other mayors begin to come forward with stories of political retaliation. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s name has surfaced in a number of email exchanges that chronicle the deterioration of what initially looked like a promising relationship.
Here’s an email from Christie’s then Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly in June reads, “Congratulations, Mayor Elected. We’re looking forward to working closely with you and your Administration.”
But sources close to Fulop say he informed Christie allies later that month that he would not be endorsing the governor.
On July 18, an email from Mayor Fulop’s scheduler reads, “Within the past hour, I have received phone calls from [Christie Administration officials]. All of which cancelled the meetings scheduled for July 23.”
In an attempt to reschedule the meeting with then Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, Fulop sent an email that reads, “…I am not sure if it’s a coincidence that your office canceled a meeting several weeks back that seemed to be simultaneous to other political conversations elsewhere … I sincerely hope the two issues are not related…”
A spokesman for the governor suggested this week that Fulop was perhaps piling on and letting his own political ambitions show. At an event earlier today, the mayor responded.
“It’s a ridiculous comment only because those records were part of an Open Public Records request made by the media and we’ve taken a deliberate approach over the past week to put Jersey City first and the emails speak for themselves,” he said.
Another big-city Democrat says he’s been on the receiving end of Christie payback for years. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage says beginning in 2010, the governor sought to make him pay for being a Corzine Democrat, closing down an important Motor Vehicle office in his city and ignoring a request for Elizabeth to join in on the red light camera program.
“When the governor said politics ain’t bean-bag, he was looking in the mirror,” said Bollwage. “He clearly said that since he’s been governor for four years he has taken care of his friends and he has hurt his adversaries. He got to be governor by taking out his adversaries. If you look at the conviction rates of the people he went after, they were big-time Democratic players.”
To be fair, when he was U.S. Attorney, Christie also convicted many Republicans. One Democrats he convicted — a Hoboken mayor, which led to the selection of Dawn Zimmer to the mayor’s office. Zimmer says she got the Christie backhand when she refused to endorse him this summer.
The mayor wouldn’t speak to us today, but a source close to her says — stay tuned. She expects to make public some very specific instances of Christie payback very soon.
As governorships go, New Jersey’s is one of the more powerful in the country. The suggestion — by three mayors now — that this governor has sought to wield that power like a sledgehammer against enemies real and perceived is at the very least a contradiction of the image Christie has tried to portray over his first term.