Bill seeks notification of NJ gov's travel

TRENTON, N.J. - September 16, 2011

The Democrat on Monday plans to introduce a bill requiring the governor to notify the Legislature's top leaders any time he leaves the state.

"It just seems rational that when someone else is taking over as governor that people should be informed," she told The Associated Press.

Calls for Christie to release a more detailed account of his schedule intensified this week from mostly Democratic lawmakers, environmentalists and newspapers after it came out that he flew to Colorado in June to give the keynote speech at a secret retreat hosted by billionaire oil tycoon brothers David and Charles Koch. The trip went unnoticed and unreported for months until the liberal-leaning Mother Jones magazine published audio recordings from the event.

The governor generally releases a schedule of events for his public appearances but not for what he deems "private" activities.

The state Republican Party has advertised some of the governor's private fundraising events but picks and chooses which non-fundraising political events to tell the public about.

Christie flew to Colorado in June after a Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press" and returned home the same night. The television appearance was advertised; the speech to wealthy conservative donors in Colorado was not.

Charles Stile, a columnist for The Record newspaper, chastised Christie with the headline: "To Christie, big donors are just like family."

"This is the line Christie has drawn: I'll tell you only when it serves my interest, but when it comes to raising political money and his profile, it's none of your business," Stile wrote.

Democratic State Party chairman John Wisniewski has also called on Christie to "stop hiding his actions from the public."

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey threatened to sue Christie for declining to release records that confirm he met with the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes last year.

After the governor's office confirmed the September 2010 meeting, the ACLU relented.

Christie has said he is in constant touch with Guadagno when he travels, but refuses to release his schedule because he says he is entitled to a "zone of privacy" and doesn't want reporters following his family around on vacation and during his down time.

"I have meetings with people all the time, private meetings that aren't disclosed. I don't put out my private schedule every day, nor will I ever, nor has any other governor," Christie said this week. "You're not entitled to know everything I do. As long as it's not involving my job, I'm just not announcing it."

Weinberg, D-Teaneck, says the governor should be open and honest about where he is at all times. At the very least, she said he should be required to tell the Legislative branch when he is not physically in the state.

"I'm not suggesting he needs to tell people what hotel he's staying at," she said.

Weinberg ran as a candidate for Lt. Gov. in 2008 alongside former Gov. Jon Corzine; they lost to Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno - the state's first lieutenant governor. Before 2008, there was no lieutenant governor and the Senate president was second in line.

Christie criticized Corzine's out-of-state trips while running against him, and Christie promised greater transparency.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the proposed legislation has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with a concern about the governor's location.

"What garbage. This isn't about Loretta caring about the transfer of gubernatorial power. It's about her playing crass politics," Drewniak said. "The governor is always the governor, whether he is in state or out."

Drewniak said that when the governor is in an adjoining state, like Delaware or New York, Guadagno and his staff are aware. When he leaves for "an extended period beyond the immediate region," Drewniak said it is "typically embodied in a letter and the Legislative leadership is informed."

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