New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), hasn't shown up in Massachusetts to campaign for the GOP candidate there, but he's still become an issue in the race. In a televised Massachusetts gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, who currently serves as the commonwealth's attorney general, said that Republican nominee Charlie Baker was potentially “in violation of the law” when he made a $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey Republican Party months before Gov. Christie’s officials gave Baker’s firm a state contract.
Baker, who is the subject of a pay-to-play investigation in New Jersey, responded by saying, “I've done nothing wrong.” But when pressed, he declined to call on Gov. Christie to release documents from the probe before the November election.
Questions surrounding Baker’s contribution have intensified this month after officials from Christie's office said they would not release documents from the investigation until after Massachusetts voters cast their ballots in the hotly contested gubernatorial election. International Business Times, which first reported on Christie's officials' refusal to disclose the documents, is appealing that decision to the New Jersey Government Records Council.
The Christie-led RGA has spent millions of dollars supporting Baker’s candidacy. Just this week, the organization dumped another $1.8 million into a PAC backing Baker. Christie has publicly touted Baker’s candidacy as one of the keys to a Republican takeover of New England statehouses.
Baker has said he is not an employee of General Catalyst, the firm that received the New Jersey pension deal after his contribution to the New Jersey GOP, which means that he is not covered by New Jersey’s pay-to-play rules that bar political contributions to New Jersey state parties from "any investment management professional associated" with a firm managing state pension money.
Yet Baker listed himself as being employed by General Catalyst on 33 separate government documents. Other government documents show that New Jersey’s pension money ended up being moved into a specific General Catalyst fund that invested in another company on whose board Baker was serving.
In Tuesday night’s debate, sponsored by the public broadcasting station WGBH, Coakley said if Baker was employed by General Catalyst, it could mean he violated New Jersey's pay-to-play rules when he made the $10,000 donation to the New Jersey State Republican State Committee. Baker denied the allegation. "I have been completely transparent about this from the beginning," he said. "I’ve never tried to hide anything."
Baker was asked by the WGBH moderator if he would use the televised debate to ask Christie to disclose documents from the investigation prior to the election. He declined.
“I certainly can’t control whatever the state of New Jersey does with this,” Baker said. “I stayed as far away from it as I can get, which I think is appropriate, and they will issue their report when they issue it.”