A judge has ruled that the public is entitled to read a series of e-mails exchanged between New Jersey governor Jon Corzine and a union leader he once dated. They have become a source of major controversy in the state and could possibly threaten his position as governor. The issue goes back to 2006 and 2007 when the guv was dating Carla Katz at the same time that the state of NJ was negotiating with the union she heads.
“The relationship created a clear potential for conflict,” Judge Innes wrote. “These types of communications would be the sort of communications the Supreme Court felt the public had the right of access to understand and evaluate the reasonableness of the public body’s actions.”
Judge Innes also wrote, “The public has a right to know whether the relationship between the governor and Ms. Katz had any improper influence on the governor’s paramount obligation to serve the interest of the citizens of New Jersey first.”
Under the order Corzine is required to release more that 700 messages within the next two weeks, though he is expected to appeal the decision and seek a stay during the appeal process. The lawsuit had been brought by Tom Wilson, the head of the New Jersey Republican party (such as it is).
The judge did protect 55 e-mails under Corzine’s executive privilege claim, saying that the governor does need some protections to allow him to get advice from others on issues of state government.
Not being a resident of the Garden State I have not been following the scandal as closely as locals might but it sure seems like something is rotten in Newark. To have a governor dating the head of a union while the state he leads is negotiating with her union is a bad idea at best, even if there is no misconduct.
I also find it interesting that outside of NJ, the scandal seems to have gotten minimal attention. Imagine if a Republican governor had been dating a business executive while the state was discussing a business deal with the company he ran ?
Hopefully the truth will come out and justice will prevail, but this is New Jersey Democratic Politics.