Christie Book Deal Bill Dies Amid Opposition in N.J. Legislature

  • Measure would have let governor profit from publishing deal
  • Lawmakers also postpone vote on contentious legal notice bill

New Jersey lawmakers killed a measure that would have let Governor Chris Christie earn money from a book deal during his last year in office.

The bill, introduced on Dec. 12 and fast-tracked through Assembly and Senate committees last week, was scheduled for votes by the full houses Monday. The measure was held and won’t be reconsidered because it lacked support, according to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Secaucus Democrat.

Among the sponsors was Christie ally Senator Kevin O’Toole, a Republican from Cedar Grove, who said the book portion of the bill was “simply a First Amendment right that has been denied in New Jersey.” Opponents included Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat from Teaneck and frequent Christie critic, who said the measure was “the ‘cherry on top’ for a governor who has been absent a good deal of his tenure and who, instead of focusing on the state’s issues, is now pushing legislation for his own gain.”

Christie, a 54-year-old Republican with a year left in his second term, has record low approval from New Jersey voters after two former allies were convicted in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal. He spent more than half of 2015 out of state in an unsuccessful run for president, and then endorsed Donald Trump. After the election, Christie was replaced as chairman of Trump’s transition team and hasn’t been given a job in the president-elect’s administration.

The legislation would have changed New Jersey law to let sitting governors write and have their books published. At the same time, it would have provided raises for the governor’s cabinet members, judges and lawmakers’ staff.

Prieto, the assembly speaker, also postponed a vote on a Christie-supported bill that would have allowed local governments to publish legal notices on websites instead of newspapers. Though the governor said the measure was aimed at cutting costs, media organizations said it would devastate their revenue and was an act of revenge by a “vindictive” Christie for their coverage of him.

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