I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Is Lobbying?

Apparently, we are supposed to be appalled at this:
New Jersey's largest teachers union was the biggest spender among lobbying groups last year, a new report shows.
The New Jersey Education Association spent $6.6 million on television and radio ads and print mailers last year and nearly $6.9 million altogether, according to the annual Election Law Enforcement Commission lobbying report released Wednesday. The union, which represents 204,000 active and retired public school teachers, has been in Gov. Chris Christie's crosshairs almost since he began campaigning for governor in 2009.
The next-biggest spender, Verizon NJ, laid out more than $935,000 for lobbying activities.
Uh, do we get to count Verizon's ads as part of their "lobbying?"

Teachers in NJ are under an assault that will drain 12% to 20% from their take-home pay. Our governor criss-crosses the state and hogs up the airways slamming the "greed and excess" in our schools. But it's "lobbying" for the union to pay for a public relations campaign to counteract this? Seriously?

I don't care what the legal definition is; paying for ads is not "lobbying." This is lobbying:
CINCINNATI — Gov. Chris Christie has been traveling the country, aiding like-minded GOP candidates, offering his support, endorsement and even a little of the newfound political stardust he is enjoying.
But the folks who may well have benefited the most from Christie’s most recent sojourn — to Ohio — could be Hess, Harrah’s, Pfizer, PSE&G and the many other companies represented by Trenton power lobbyist Roger Bodman, who last week accompanied the governor on his 20-hour trip to the Republican bastion of Cincinnati.
A senior partner with Public Strategies Impact who describes himself on the firm’s website as an "icon" of New Jersey lobbying, Bodman was a ranking official in Gov. Tom Kean’s administration and a key adviser to Kean. Bodman explained that his travel with Christie was the result of nothing more than Bodman’s own long-standing friendship with the man Christie was stumping for, Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich. Bodman said he was subbing for former congressman Bob Franks, one of Kasich’s closest friends, who died of cancer earlier this year.
Christie left New Jersey on a chartered jet Monday and attended a private fundraiser in a wealthy Cincinnati enclave before returning downtown for the night. The following day, Christie headlined an event with Kasich, a former congressman and Fox News personality, and then returned to New Jersey to announce education reform proposals.
Bodman was with the governor the entire way. He said he paid for all of his own expenses except for his place on the private plane, which was covered by the Kasich campaign. Bodman said he would be glad to pay for his spot on the plane if the campaign wants the reimbursement. He said he was the one who asked if Christie would aid the Kasich campaign and he asked the governor if he could go along. [emphasis mine]
NJEA ads ain't nearly as fun as cruisin' at 30,000 feet in your private G6. Maybe next time the NJEA could save up about 10 times what they spent in ads and get a Gulfstream of their very own; that way, they could buy off the guv by giving him rides around the country to slam public employee unions.

Now that's lobbying!

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