EDUCATION

Report: Emails Suggest Unit of Christie Office Engaged in Political Activity

The governor of New Jersey has a lot to discuss — a gas tax hike, a bridge trial, Trump. A lot to say. But not today. NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron spoke with Anchor Mary Alice Williams about the latest developments.

Williams: There are newly released emails that seem to suggest Christie knew about political activity in his office earlier than thought?

Aron: That’s right. Politico reported this morning that in court documents filed by the defense yesterday were a couple of emails from Bill Stepien, who at the time was deputy chief of staff, he would soon transition over to become campaign manager. But he sent a couple of emails to Christie. One of which he said we’ve put the Belleville mayor, a Democrat, in the end zone, suggesting that the Intergovernmental Affairs unit within the governor’s office, which has since been disbanded, was engaging in political activity. Now we don’t know whether maybe Stepien was writing these emails at midnight or maybe he was courting Democratic mayors in the evening off of state time, but you’re not supposed to engage in politics out of the taxpayer funded governor’s office.

Williams: But this is not necessarily any type of smoking gun, right?

Aron: It suggests that there might have been an aggressive use of governmental machinery for political ends but it has nothing to do with whether Christie knew about any lane closures as early as April or not until December 2013, which is when he says he sort of became aware of what was going on.

Williams: Let’s talk about the gas tax hike. Would Christie veto it?

Aron: He might. He might even more likely conditionally veto it. He might even sign it. He has sent mixed signals in recent days. He bashed it the other day saying 23 is too much and the five tax cuts they put in it are not enough. In the same statement he said but it deserves consideration. So he’s sending mixed messages. The tax hike bill is formally being introduced tomorrow I’m told. The big question in the State House is what will he and Republican legislators do about it?

Williams: And finally about Trump’s latest comments banning Muslims? What would Christie say about that?

Aron: Well, the press wanted Christie to take questions today but he didn’t and one of them surely would’ve been what’s your take on the latest version of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban? Trump has been saying since Orlando that we should temporarily keep out Muslim immigrants from countries that have been touched by terrorism. Christie in the past has distanced himself from Trump’s policy on that or thought on that. We didn’t get to hear him today because he left an education event without taking any press questions.

Williams: And what did he do at that education event?

Aron: He gave 60 people $30,000 scholarships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in exchange for teaching in urban and rural schools.

Williams: Thank you Michael.

Aron: Thank you.