The recently scandalized yet very popular New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is really showing some confidence these days. While a dark cloud still hangs over his office regarding the infamous George Washington Bridge fiasco, Christie is looking ahead to 2016. With fortitude and moxie, the potential Republican presidential candidate calls for the allowing of unlimited campaign contributions this week. Well, why not? After all, despite a dip in national approval ratings over “Bridgegate,” Christie is still expected by many to make a run for “Leader of the Free World” in the next election.
In a recent Somerset town hall meeting on Tuesday, Christie addressed the recent Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The decision, which still only allows for one individual to donate an amount in the four-figure zone to one federal candidate during general elections, also paves a way for millions to ultimately be funneled to any one candidate through fundraising committees in a two-year cycle. At first glance, it may not seem like this really changes anything. However, it may legitimize what has already been going on for years, behind closed doors in some cases. Christie compared money to water in his rallying, saying “No matter how many walls you put up, it finds its way. So let’s let the water in and hold people accountable for what they do.”
Taking the Supreme Court ruling a step further, it would appear that Christie is calling for a no-holds-barred situation, wherein anyone can donate unlimited campaign contributions to a single candidate during any given election cycle. However, Christie does urge a few stipulations to opening the money floodgates. Mainly, he would like to see accountability and transparency as far as who donates and where the money goes. The N.J. governor referred to a 48-hour period after a donation is made, after which point full disclosure of identity would be mandatory. He has further insinuated that outside groups have historically been allowed operation with minimal scrutiny in terms of donors and direction of cash flow.
Christie, who is hugely popular among the Republican Party, certainly has reason to receive a pat on the back. As head of the Republican Governors Association, which he was elected to in 2013, Christie has helped the group raise over 30 million dollars. Perhaps now the New Jersey governor is expecting some good will to come back in his favor. Again, all this talk of unlimited campaign funds comes just when the governor’s office is reeling from a scandal that may or may not have long-term effects on Christie’s possible future run for the presidency. It was uncovered recently that the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who cleared the governor of wrongdoing in the Washington Bridge lane closure, had also donated $10,000 to the RGA. That connection has now become a topic of scrutiny, particularly among Democrats.
Christie may have a point. With millions being utilized in election campaigns and regardless of “caps,” perhaps it is time to legitimize and make transparent an age-old function of the system. Nevertheless, as talk of 2016 nears, Christie’s timing could not be more impeccable. With his fellow Republicans at his back and well-known relationship to casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Christie is unsurprisingly calling for the ability to receive unlimited campaign contributions. It seems Christie’s confidence overshadows any worry of repercussions over the recent scandal. Christie still faces the possibility of subpoena as a testifying witness in the matter.
Opinion by Josh Taub