Monday, September 26, 2011

ChristieWatch: Who most deserves an evening with New Jersey's governor?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 2:19 PM

U.S. Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)
  • U.S. Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enjoys travel . We of ChristieNation know that much about him, even if, sometimes, we don't know much about his travel itineraries.

But this week, we're in for a rare treat, because Christie, a public official who draws an annual salary of $175,000, plus a $95,000 expense account, ostensibly for the time he spends in the state of New Jersey, has disclosed his travel schedule. And on Thursday, he's coming to Baton Rouge.

Christie's fundraiser in the state capital (for the State GOP's Victory Fund) will cap off a week-long national fundraising tour, or, in any case, a fundraising tour with stops in three very distant states. Christie's travel schedule, released by the NJ GOP, has renewed media speculation that he's preparing to enter the already crowded race for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election.

Despite his endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the nomination, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is reported to be attending the Thursday event. So it promises to be a spectacular public relations event for both governors and the Louisiana GOP. Which it most certainly would be if we were allowed to know where it was going to be. Unfortunately, this is a private event (not uncommon), and according to the governor's schedule, it is closed to press. There's been no disclosure yet of location beyond "Baton Rouge" and "private residence."

(Note: Just to be sure, we have placed inquiries with the LA GOP and the Jindal campaign. GOP spokesman Aaron Baer was not available this afternoon. The people handling the phones at the party and the campaign said they had "no idea" about any Gov. Christie event at all, which I was at first skeptical about, but upon further reflection they sounded like college-age volunteers.)

Certainly, the list of potential private residences can't be too long. Whoever's hosting the event will have to be (A) very wealthy, (B) a Republican and (C) a relatively frequent and significant campaign contributor. Since the event is being sponsored by the Louisiana Republican Party, that might be (this is all speculation) narrowed down even more to (D) a wealthy Republican contributor to the state Republican Party who (E) maintains his or her primary home in the Baton Rouge area.

That leaves out billionaire Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who along with his wife Doylene, contributed $200,000 to the Victory Fund last year. (There's a $100,000 legal committee contribution limit per person, under state law). Likewise billionaire former oil executive Phyllis M. Taylor ($85,000 to the state GOP in the past two years) of Taylor Energy or Sammy Zito ($15,000 in December 2010), president of Zito Cos., barge and towboat leasing and service companies. They're both based in New Orleans.

The only recent state party contributor of any real significance whose zip code also begins with 708 is Excel USA CEO Dave Roberts. Roberts gave the party $6,000 of his own money last year. Excel, a construction company that appears to do a great deal of its business with the oil industry, gave $10,000 in June. That money, however, is marked for a "Perry event."

So really, it could be anywhere. Ask around at your local gun, hunt, yacht and/or country clubs.

Source: Louisiana Ethics Administration

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