Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey this year, is facing a new line of attack from Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, based on Christie’s recently-revealed conversations with Karl Rove: That he may have potentially violated the Hatch Act.
A longstanding government ethics law passed in 1939, the Hatch Act forbids government officials from engaging in political activity on government time, as well as preliminary activities to set up a campaign. After an Associated Press report noted that Christie’s conversations with Rove years ago may have violated the act (because the two of them discussed a possible Christie bid for governor) Corzine picked up on the theme.
“The Hatch Act is very clear in saying political activities are off limits,” Corzine said yesterday afternoon. “It is very hard to understand how someone who is responsible and mission is law enforcement should be violating — potentially violating — laws like the Hatch Act.”
The Rove attack has two damaging aspects for Christie. First, it could potentially hurt Christie’s clean-government, corruption-busting image, which has helped him take a substantial lead over Corzine in the polls. And furthermore, it serves to remind New Jersey voters that Christie worked in the Bush administration, which was hardly well-liked in this liberal state.
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