- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie said that he pushed the state’s economic development agency to borrow $300 million for a controversial statehouse renovation on the same day that the independent agency approved the debt.

“It was my decision to go ahead with the bond issue on that day,” Christie said at a news conference Monday, in which he revealed he is moving from his statehouse office Friday. “Get it done. Ready? Why are we waiting? Let’s get it done.”

The Economic Development Authority is an independent state agency, however Christie appoints its board. Chairman Thomas Scrivo was formerly Christie’s chief counsel.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, one of the Democratic candidates for governor who has filed a lawsuit to try to stop the project, said Monday the governor’s comment showed Christie was using the development authority to improperly issue new debt.

The lawsuit from Wisniewski and other Democratic and Republican lawmakers argues Christie improperly skirted legislative and voter approval. Christie has defended the project saying it had been done legally and properly and was approved by a committee that includes bipartisan legislative aides.

Christie criticized the lawsuit as purely political. He called it “moot” and said the project is moving forward.

Republican candidates for governor Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, as well as Democratic candidate Sen. Ray Lesniak, have spoken out against the plan.

“I’m the one taking the majority of the heat for this, and that’s fine. That’s my job, but this needs to be done,” Christie said. “Nobody has the political guts to say to people we have to spend the money on this building,”

Christie announced that he will move to an office down the street Friday and that the lawsuit expected to be argued before a judge next month won’t stop him. The Monday press briefing was his last in the executive wing of the statehouse, which he has described as a fire trap badly in need of renovations.


Contact Catalini at https://www.twitter.com/mikecatalini

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