Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker said last night that he now regrets making a $10,000 contribution to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's state party just before Christie officials awarded his firm a state pension contract. The declaration came during a televised debate in which the Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, demanded he urge Christie to stop blocking the release of documents related to New Jersey's pay-to-play investigation of Baker's contribution.
With polls showing the Massachusetts race tight, Christie this weekend used a Fox News appearance to publicly tout Baker's candidacy. The Christie-led Republican Governors Association has also spent more than $8 million to support Baker's campaign. But, perhaps just as helpful to Baker has been Christie officials' recent decision to delay the release of documents from the pay-to-play probe until after this Tuesday's election. That decision was first reported by International Business Times.
The probe revolves around Baker's $10,000 donation to the New Jersey State Republican Committee in 2011. New Jersey's pay-to-play rules bar contributions from executives at firms doing business with the state's $80 billion pension fund. Yet, New Jersey awarded Baker's firm, General Catalyst, a $15 million pension management contract a few months after Baker's donation. That was one of a series of New Jersey pension deals awarded to firms whose employees have made campaign contributions to organizations backing Christie's election campaigns.
When news of the donation and the General Catalyst contract first emerged in May, Christie officials said an investigation would take only weeks to complete. Nearly half a year later, though, Christie officials now say findings from the investigation -- and documents related to the probe -- will not be available for public review until after the election. Christie officials rejected IBTimes' open records request for any documents related to the investigation. In September, Christie officials announced they had sold the state's investment in Baker's firm.
Baker's donation and New Jersey's investigation was the first topic discussed during last night's New England Cable News debate.
During the exchange, Baker reiterated his assertion that his contribution was legal, saying, “I don't believe I've done anything wrong." Yet, when the debate moderator asked him if he regretted making the donation to Christie's state party, he said "well, yeah." Prior to that, Baker has argued that he is not covered by New Jersey's pay-to-play laws because, he said, “I’m not a registered investment professional."