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New Jersey News

How Widespread Is Pay-to-Play in NJ?

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New Jersey's troubled pension system got bad news this week, when Gov. Chris Christie announced he would withhold a nearly $2.5 billion payment to the system in order to plug a budget deficit. And now, an investigation by the website Pando Daily shows possible widespread violations of state and federal pay-to-play laws, with several major Republican donors being given access to manage the state's pension investments in the five years since Chris Christie took office.

David Sirota has been covering this story over the past couple of months, reporting on how the Christie Administration has been awarding pension investment contracts to donors linked to his campaign and the Republican Party in general. Republican and Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, a partner at a Cambridge investment firm, is the most well-known example. He made a $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey's state Republican Party, and seven months later, a company he was associated with received $25 million in pension money to invest.

“It’s very widespread,” Sirota said. “Forty-three financial firms have spent roughly $11 million on political contributions to New Jersey politicians and to political organizations operating in New Jersey, and they now have $14 billion worth of New Jersey pension money under management.”