NEW YORK – In another indication of the hardball Gov. Chris Christie played to win support from Democratic officials, documents released Monday show that the governor’s administration aggressively courted the mayor of Jersey City, N.J., then abruptly cut ties after he informed them that he would not endorse the governor for his re-election.
According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the courtship between Christie and the Jersey City mayor, Steven Fulop, began with a call from the governor on May 14, after Fulop won the election. The next morning, Christie’s campaign manager for his re-election, Bill Stepien, texted Fulop to say that the Christie administration would do as much as Fulop wanted to get help from the administration.
Working with Bridget Anne Kelly – an aide to Christie who was fired last week after the release of documents showing she gave the signal to shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge – Fulop then set up a day’s worth of meetings on July 23.
Kelly and a Fulop aide referred to it as a “mayor’s day,” with scheduled appointments with commissioners or heads of six different administration agencies, including transportation, economic development, the state treasurer and the commissioner of community affairs.
The meetings were offered by the governor’s office, to help with, as Kelly wrote, “what the Fulop administration will need in the beginning months of the term.”
After Fulop told Christie aides on July 18 that he would not endorse the governor, the commissioners began calling to cancel. Almost all cancellations came within an hour, and the remaining ones followed close on their heels.
Also on Monday, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., announced that the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will audit the state’s use of $25 million in federal money for an ad campaign to promote New Jersey tourism after Superstorm Sandy. Christie and his family appeared in the ads. His administration chose a politically connected public relations company over another firm that had bid $2 million less. The winning bidder proposed using Christie in the ads, while the other did not.