Chris Christie and the case of a public record that mysteriously shrunk in half are returning to Superior Court.
Last month, the court ordered the governor’s office to release its “secret” directory of media contacts and VIPs, assembled at taxpayers’ expense.
But what Christie’s staff gave New Jersey Watchdog last week contained only half of the information described in court papers. Instead of 2,500 names, the list has only 1,229 entries.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson will hear arguments next week on whether or not the record was altered before its release, a possible violation of the court’s order.
It is another chapter in the governor’s contentious battle to keep confidential a key cog in a publicity machine that turned Christie into a national figure and set the stage for his White House run.
The list was created by the Christie’s communications staff of 16 full-time state employees paid $1.36 million in salaries last year, New Jersey Watchdog found. It helped the governor score countless national television appearances, plus 8,761,511 views on YouTube, 176,955 likes on Facebook and 6,810 tweets to 489,000 followers on Twitter during his first five years in office.
At the center of the latest dispute is a certification by Matt Katz of WNYC. Katz was allowed to review but not copy the list at the governor’s office last year, as part of a settlement in a public records lawsuit by New York Public Radio.
Katz reported the list contained roughly 2,500 names. In viewing the record released to New Jersey Watchdog, he found “substantial differences” between it and what the governor’s staff had allowed him to inspect. In his statement to the court, Katz gave specific examples of information conspicuously missing from the list.
The complete story is online at http://watchdog.org/240489/christie-transparency-disappears/.