Saturday, September 10, 2016

Echoes of Hilary: Judge orders Christie's email searched

Governor Christie’s personal email must be searched — or he must prove that it already has been — to comply with the state’s open-records law, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

Dustin Racioppi reports in The Record

Judge Mary C. Jacobson of Superior Court in Mercer County ordered the governor’s personal email accounts be searched to comply with an Open Public Records Act request filed last year by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record. That request sought a range of records, including email correspondence, among Christie and his aides dealing with a 2013 meeting with Democratic Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and the Port Authority.

The governor’s office provided 90 pages of documents in response, but 56 of those pages were heavily redacted. And the office did not search the governor’s personal accounts in responding to the request, even though Christie and other state employees frequently used personal email to conduct government business, as investigators found in the fallout of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.

In court arguments, Christie’s office contended that one email, about a meeting between a former Port Authority executive and Fulop, was not subject to the open-records law because it concerned his reelection campaign, and that the reporter who filed the request was playing a “game of gotcha” in seeking records that “were all at play or at least discussed” in the federal criminal case on the 2013 bridge lane closures.

But Samuel Samaro, a lawyer with the Hackensack firm Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, argued that there were problems with the office’s initial search since Christie regularly used personal email and that it appeared he had used it for official business, which would make it subject to the records law. Invoking criticism of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, Samaro said the government’s fight in this case “is about secrecy that the office of the governor is interested in.”

“It’s national news. It’s what Hillary Clinton is beaten up about every day — same thing and, by the way, same motive, as far as I can tell. It’s not national implications but it’s the same thing. It’s avoiding what we’re doing here today,” Samaro told Jacobson.

On Friday, he added in an interview that Christie has made his personal email “fair game because he used it for public business.”

Read the full story here 

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