For immediate release
Judge gives Christie a pass in travel records lawsuit
The question of whether Gov. Chris Christie must obey New Jersey state travel rules was left unanswered by a decision Tuesday in Mercer County Superior Court.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson dismissed a lawsuit by a New Jersey Watchdog reporter seeking records of who paid for Christie’s unofficial out-of-state trips. She ruled the reporter’s Open Public Records Act request was “overbroad and lacking in specifics and clarity.”
To the contrary, the records request “specifically included documentation of the payment arrangement on the third-party’s letterhead, as required by Treasury Circular 12-14-OMB.” In addition, the reporter also sought various other records on those journeys.
“Our position is that the regulation does not apply,” argued Assistant Attorney General Lewis Scheindlin, representing the governor in court. “If it doesn’t apply, the next question is whether these records exist.”
“Well, what records do they have and how do they keep them?” asked Donald M. Doherty, the reporter’s lawyer.
“We don’t know how the governor’s office keeps the travel records,” said Jacobson. “We don’t know if they keep third-party records separate from the other travel records.”
However, the judge stopped short of requesting any specifics about the disputed documents, and Scheindlin did not offer details about their existence.
The hearing also raised the issue of whether Christie must abide by the code of conduct he set for himself in 2010.
The story is now online at http://watchdog.org/162260/christie-travel-lawsuit-2/.