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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Christie: Slush Fund for Me, Not For Thee

Cross-posted from Blue Jersey:

If you've been trolling around the web and you live in Jersey, you've probably seen this ridiculous video about how Chris Christie and unnamed "reformers" are "getting the job done."

FactCheck.org pretty much skewers the entire ad: Christie's job creation record sucks, he didn't put more money into schools, and the notion he and the Christiecrats "saved" pensions is laughable on its face. Bill Orr has a great summary of how phony Christie's "Jersey Comeback" truly is; NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg also exposes this myth.

So we know this is all a crock; the question is, "Who is paying for this propaganda?"

This is the latest in a series of ad buys paid for by the Committee for Our Children’s Future. Blue Jersey has documented the personal connections Christie has to the group through his alma mater, the University of Delaware. What we don't know, however, is who exactly has funded this campaign. As a 501(c)(4), CCF is under no obligation to tell anyone where its funds come from.

Which makes this comparison from Christie all the more bizarre:
"If they are out there helping me, I say thank you very much, because these unions have spent tens of millions of dollars attacking me since I’ve become governor," Christie said in a news conference in September. "But I have nothing to do with the group. I don’t raise money for them."
This isn't the first time Christie has tried to hide behind the unions' ads:
The New Jersey Education Association’s use of a "$130 million slush fund" — the amount the state’s largest teachers union collects annually in dues — to "beat on the people who dare to speak out for children," however, is "immoral," Christie told a rapt audience of about 400.
"When you’re governor and you work in the school yard called Trenton, and you see a bunch of people laying on the ground bloodied and one guy standing against the fence with a smug smile on his face, you know that’s the bully," Christie said, speaking about the union leadership.
"You know what you do? You walk up to him with a big smile on your face and you punch him first," Christie said, earning a roar of applause.
Aside from the sociopathic language Christie is using here, the comparison simply doesn't hold up. NJEA doesn't spend all of its member dues on ads - duh. Admittedly, it did spend a hefty $11 million in the last year, but CCF spent about $5 million. And NJEA doesn't have to merely fight back against Christie; the governor gets plenty of free ads in the form of Star-Ledger editorials among other places.

Further, CCF isn't the only group spending big bucks to attack unions:

In New Jersey, the state affiliate of StudentsFirst can count on nearly unlimited support from hedge-fund managers David Tepper and Alan Fournier, the executive director said. Tepper and Fournier are also substantial donors to the PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Both men declined to comment.

“There is no budget,” said the state director, Derrell Bradford. “They are willing to spend whatever it takes.” [emphasis mine]
But here's the difference: we know exactly where the ad money the NJEA spends is coming from - the teachers they represent. We have no idea who exactly is funding the nakedly political ads to pump up the governor. Why is this important?

I've written about the connections between Bradford's B4K, Michelle Rhee's Students First, Rupert Murdoch, and NJ politics before:

Steven Brill has reported that Rupert Murdoch funds Rhee's group; Rhee has partnered with B4K. B4K funds ads that shill for Christie among others. And Murdoch's Wireless Generation is an education services provider that looks to be digging its claws into New Jersey.

The taxpayers of New Jersey know that teachers fund the NJEA ads; they can make up their own minds as to whether those ads are self-seving. But those same taxpayers have no way of knowing whether the people who fund CCF or B4K have their own self-serving motivations for supporting Chris Christie.

When Chris Christie rails against public worker unions for taking out ads that question his policies, yet refuses to call on lobbying groups like CCF and B4K to disclose their finances, he is engaging in hypocrisy of the highest order.

I know; you're just shocked...

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