Christie campaign still owes Bridgegate $1 million in debt

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Seven years after his re-election in 2013, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s gubernatorial campaign still owes $1 million in debt following the Bridgegate scandal.

But the moribund campaign could be allowed to stop filing campaign finance reports this year. And there is no indication that the campaign sought to repay its debts, or that either of the companies to whom the money was owed – a leading law firm and a cybersecurity company that billed large monthly amounts to taxpayers under the Christie administration – made an effort to collect.

According to its latest filing from last month, Christie’s 2013 campaign owes $651,305 to law firm Squire Patton Boggs and $364,103 to digital forensics firm Stroz Friedberg, which has since changed its name to Aon’s Cyber. Solutions.

The state’s Elections Law Enforcement Commission is allowing state-funded governors’ campaigns to seek to stop filing reports with the state — essentially voiding the public record of its debt — seven years after the elections. This means the Christie campaign is eligible to do so this month.

The Christie campaign took on the two companies in early 2014, shortly after Christie’s landslide re-election victory, to respond to federal subpoenas related to the Bridgegate investigation, which focused on the suspicious lane closures. entrance to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013. The campaign requested permission from the League in February 2014 to resume fundraising to pay for legal work.

In 2009, while reviewing the stop reporting regulations, The ELE stated that “a campaign must be required to demonstrate some degree of good faith in an effort to repay debts, rather than simply waiting for the proposed seven-year period to expire.”

But records filed with the commission indicate that Christie, who has proven to be a prolific fundraiser for other campaigns and causes, barely raised any money to pay off the debt. After gaining permission to begin fundraising again, Christie’s gubernatorial campaign raised only $4,439 from multiple donors – even though Christie launched an unsuccessful presidential campaign the following year in which he raised millions. A few months after the departure of Christie, the candidate at the time, Donald Trump organized a fundraiser to pay off Christie’s presidential campaign debts.

Christie – who makes money practicing private law, through lobbying and as an ABC on-air contributor – is co-chair a fundraising group to help two Republican senators from Georgia who face a January runoff.

“The [Christie] had a contribution limit of $3,800 for any individual or corporation, so anyone who had made the maximum contribution could not contribute a penny more,” said Christie confidant Bill Palatucci, a prominent attorney and go-to Republican circles in New Jersey. “Furthermore, New Jersey’s pay-to-play rules governing any gubernatorial campaign have made fundraising for Christie-Guadagno nearly impossible more than a year after the run ended.” (Kim Guadagno served as Lieutenant Governor of Christie.)

Meanwhile, the two companies continued to work for the campaign, going deeper and deeper into debt over several years.

Records show Christie’s gubernatorial campaign paid $140,000 to Patton Boggs from 2014 to 2016 and made a $4,814 payment to Stroz Friedberg in 2014. Around the same time, Stroz Friedberg was hired by the Christie Administration for preservation of taxpayer-funded records. After Governor Phil Murphy took office in 2018, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said to himself “amazedto learn that the state was paying Stroz Friedberg $64,000 a month and instead turned to a company that charged a small fraction of that. Esquire Patton Boggs also had state contracts during the Christie administration, before and after the Bridgegate scandal. We don’t know how much he won, but a lawyer from the firm served as a special adviser to the state during the Atlantic City takeover, which began in 2016.

Christie is not the first gubernatorial candidate to fall into debt long after Election Day. Former GOP candidates Bret Schundler and the late W. Cary Edwards had both been in campaign debt for years.

ELEC executive director Jeff Brindle said that although seven years have passed since Christie’s re-election, the campaign has yet to apply to stop filing reports.

“If they ask to be terminated, I think the commission will have to make a decision based on the guidelines in the settlement,” Brindle said. (Palatucci did not say whether Christie would seek to end the filing of campaign finance reports with the League.)

This the regulations required the campaign to describe “the campaign’s efforts to repay outstanding obligations, including, but not limited to, efforts to compromise or resolve debt with the vendor or service provider.”

Brindle said candidates who take public funding, as Christie did, cannot repay campaign debt themselves — even if the contributions they take after the campaign are no longer matched by funds. public.

“He would still be subject to the $25,000 that a state-funded candidate can spend on their own money,” Brindle said.

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