TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday night attacked “the haters” he said allowed personal animus to deny him the ability to profit from a writing book while in office.
“People are asking as if this is a long-standing tradition,” Christie said during his monthly call-in radio show, “Ask the Governor,” on New Jersey 101.5-FM.
He then noted that the ethics law the prevents him from profiting from a book while still in office was only passed by his Democratic predecessor, Jon Corzine, in 2008.
It was at that time that Corzine, an independently wealthy former Wall Street banker, forbade compensation for work outside the governorship but allowed for passive income from investments.
“I wonder why Gov. Corzine passed that law, when he was a former Goldman Sachs executive?” Christie asked, with mock bafflement.
Corzine did not accept a salary while governor, living off his investments.
The governor then dismissed the legislative opposition to the book bill as “just the haters” who “made it personal about me.”
When host Eric Scott suggested that much of the opposition to the bill stemmed from the perception of a quid pro quo for legislative staff, cabinet, and judicial salary increases, the governor noted that judges hadn’t gotten a pay raise in over a dozen years.
“Judges today make less than they did in 2003,” Christie said. “You don’t want judges who think getting $140,000 a year is a raise. … You want to appear before stupid judges? Then don’t raise their pay any more.”
How rough was Christie’s bad day in Trenton?
Christie complained that paltry public sector salary caps had cost him qualified staffers, noting that legislative staffers had not received a pay raise in 15 years.
Christie said that top candidates had turned him down because they “can’t afford to live in New Jersey.”
Cabinet officials, who earn $141,000, got their last raise in 2002. Judicial salaries, which range from $165,000 for Superior Court trial judges to $192,795 for the Supreme Court chief justice, last went up in 2009.
“It’s very easy to open your big mouth and say ‘I don’t want people to make any more money,'” said Christie, noting the pay increases he was seeking for judges, cabinet officials and legislative staffers amounted to only “$10 million in a $34 billion budget.”
The governor suggested the very future of the governorship hinged on the ability to make money while in office.
“I don’t write the bills,” Christie said. “But I can defend every piece of it. … If all you want to attract to government is the independently wealthy, then that’s what you’re going to get. … There is no free lunch. There is not ‘something for nothing.’ You’ll get what you pay for.”
The governor of New Jersey earns a $175,000 annual salary, and is also given an annual $95,000 entertainment allowance.
Meanwhile, the governor expressed little sympathy for media outlets fighting his push to end a longstanding law requiring the publication of legal notices in newspapers.
“Let’s unmask the hypocrites in the newspaper business for what they are,” Christie said. “They are just another special interest feeding like pigs at the government trough.”
The newspaper legal bill and legislation that would have paved the way for salary increases while green-lighting Christie’s book deal were both shot down Monday in Trenton. Leaders said the book deal was dead, but suggested the newspaper legislation could resurface in the new year.
Christie contends the legally required publication of public notices amounts to an $80 million subsidy for the struggling industry. The New Jersey Press Association, however, said it’s closer to $20 million annually and almost 80 percent of that is privately funded. Rates the newspapers charge haven’t increased in more the 25 years, according to the association.
Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClaudeBrodesser. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.