Christie and Oliver at odds over leaked tape of secret speech

All the New Jersey media is abuzz over the leaked audio and transcript of a talk that Governor Chris Christie delivered to a secret meeting of GOP mega-donors organized by the Koch brothers in Colorado on June 26.  The meeting was so secret that Christie did not disclose to the press, as is customary, that he was leaving the state and transferring power to the Lt. Governor.

What has everyone in a tizzy is a story that Christie told the group about how he saved Sheila Oliver’s speakership during the landmark pension and benefit bill negotiations:

And Thursday night it came time for the Assembly. And they started to caucus at 11:00 in the morning. They were supposed to start voting at 1:00. It got to be 5:30 and they were still in the caucus room. And the reports I was getting out of there were not positive about what was going on to my friend the Speaker. She was takin’ a beating at the hands of her own party. At 5:30 she called me and she said to me, “Governor, I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I’m going to, I want to post the bill but I think when I go on the floor, my own party’s going to take a run at me to remove me as Speaker. So I can’t post the bill.” She said, “I think the only way I survive is if the 33 Republicans in the chamber will agree to vote for me for Speaker. Can you work it out?” [scattered laughter] So I said, “Give me five minutes.” [laughter]

So I went down to the Republican Assembly caucus room. I stood at the front of the room and I said, “Ladies and gentleman, it’s a historic day today. You’re going to get an opportunity to cast two historic votes.” [laughter] “The first one, of course, is about pension and benefit reform and I know that everybody in this room supports it. The second one is a little more unusual.” [laughter] I said, “Probably for the only time in my governorship I’m going to actually ask you to vote for a Democrat. I said Sheila Oliver is under siege. And she wants to do the right thing. And we cannot be slaves to party or partisanship. She is right on this issue and she is with us on this issue. So if they take a run at her on the floor, I need all of you to vote for her for Speaker.” I had these men and women look back at me like, “What?” [scattered laughter] And I said to ’em, “We were sent here to lead. Not to preen and posture, posture and pose. To lead. A public office to lead. We need to do this. So raise your hands. Are you with me or aren’t you?” All 33 of them raised their hands and said they were with me.

And so I went back to my office, I got on the phone and I called the Speaker, and I said, “You just got 33 new votes.” And she said, “Well, you just got yourself a bill.” And she went on the floor, she led the debate, another two and a half hours of debate. They never took a run at her. It was the Minority Leader who suddenly went over to the Majority Leader of the Assembly, it was the guy who was gonna take a run at her, and said, “By the way, we’ve got her back, so don’t try it.” [very scattered chuckles] They didn’t. They opened up the board, they cast the votes, by then 46 to 32, with 33 Republicans and 13 Democrats, we passed health and pension reform that will save the taxpayers of New Jersey over the next 30 years at least 132 billion dollars. [audience: “wows”, whistles, applause]

When I get back to New Jersey tomorrow morning, we will sign the bill on Tuesday and make it law and it will become effective July 1st. And that’s what we were sent to do to govern.

At a press conference in Atlantic City today, Christie confirmed he delivered the speech and he issued a correction.  He said there were 32 in Assembly members in the Republican caucus room, not 33 as he said in Colorado.  The Star Ledger quotes Christie today saying he was “proud” that he helped protect Oliver’s speakership.  He said that the story shows that “Republicans put policy over politics,” according to the Ledger.

Oliver said Christie “is deranged” :

“The assertions that Gov. Christie has made, they are outright lies. Outright lies. I am beginning to wonder if Gov. Christie is mentally deranged,” Oliver said. “At no time did I ever, ever pick up the telephone, call Gov. Christie and ask him to quote ‘save my leadership.’ ” The governor was engaged in a chest-thumping vaudeville entertainment session in front of the Republican donors, she said. “I don’t expect to call him at all,” she said. “I think it’s disgraceful.”

Now the Democratic leaders of both houses of the New Jersey legislature have called Christie a liar. In January Senate President Stephen Sweeney refuted Christie’s claim that he was in direct contact with Sweeney during the December blizzard while Sweeney was Acting Governor.

Sweeney famously called Christie a “rotten prick” in July after Christie used the line item veto to balance the budget.  Today Oliver called Christie “mentally deranged.”    Christie calls these people his friends.

Multiple people who were in the Republican caucus room spoke to MMM on the condition of anonymity.  They confirmed Christie’s version of the story, sort of.  Let’s just say that while 32 hands went up, not all of them had five fingers raised.

The caucus knew that Oliver was under siege.  They expected Majority Leader Joe Cryan to try to replace her in order to prevent the pension and benefits reform bill from being posted.

No one could confirm Christie’s account of Minority Leader Alex DeCroce going over to Cryan and telling him, “By the way, we’ve got her back, so don’t try it.”   If it happened, it may have been a bluff.

Several of the more conservative members of the caucus were very concerned about casting a vote for Oliver as speaker.  “Such a vote will follow me for the rest of my career, if I have a career,” one Assembly member said, according to a source who was in the room.

“There are two factions if the Republican caucus,” said the source, “those who are concerned about primary challenges from Tea Partiers and those from the more moderate districts who are concerned about winning the general election.  The conservatives were worried about having to vote for Oliver.”

There is some truth to Oliver’s carefully worded response to the leaked tapes.  Christie’s speech was entertainment.  As Assemlbyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) told the Ledger, this was “a red meat speech.”

As those who have followed Christie on the stump know, the Governor is a great story teller, in the tradition of great Irish story tellers.  

Great stories and tales get better every time they are told by a master. While the underlying truth remains, the details get embellished and the story gets “better.”  It makes a point better, is more moving or entertaining.  Anyone who has attended three or more of Christie’s town hall meetings knows Christie is a great story teller.

Posted: September 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Alex DeCroce, Chris Christie, Joe Cryan, NJ Media, NJ State Legislature, Sheila Oliver | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

6 Comments on “Christie and Oliver at odds over leaked tape of secret speech”

  1. Robert Martin said at 1:58 pm on September 8th, 2011:

    I am trying to post the following on Art Gallagher’s web site (www.moremonmouthmusings.net) .

    Art likes to censor what appears on his site. The following is what I wanted to say in response to his most recent post:

    “As those who have followed Christie on the stump know, the Governor is a great story teller, in the tradition of great Irish story tellers. “ — Art Gallagher (idiot/bullshit artist)

    Art, don’t you dare embarrass the Irish by suggesting that Christie — half Irish at best, and a full-time liar most of the time — is acting in a way that is at all Irish and/or honorable. Christie is half-Italian. He certainly lacks much in the character department.

    Christie lies often. Case in point: Chrisie promised, in a very public way, not to raise taxes if elected. He has, nonethless, certainly expressed his willingness to increase tolls (road taxes). To wit:

    Truckers insulted by 125 percent tax increase in NY-NJ

    This fat bastard (Christie) and his cheerleaders (e.g., Art Gallagher) can call call these tax increases “user fees” until they are blue in the face. The fact of the matter is that Chris Christie will increase, by 125% over a 4 year period, the tolls/road taxes that independent truckers (small business owners) will have to pay in order to do business in New Jersey and New York. (See the link above.)

    Governor Christie, take a look around. Almost everything that you own was once on a truck. Do you really think that increasing tolls by 125% over 4 years will not increase the cost of living that ALL New Jersey residents will have to endure? How can you claim that a toll increase is not a tax increase? Do you really belive that your tax/toll increases won’t be passed on to the consumer?

    It now costs $40 for a truck to cross the GW bridge. The Port Authority wants to change that. In 2015, truckers will pay $90 to cross that same bridge if the PA (Port Authority) plan is approved. Only you, Governor Christie, can stop this tax/toll increase. Will you?

    Tell me, Art Gallagher (and Chris Christie), how do increased tolls make it easier for truckers to do business here in New Jersey? How do toll increases improve the quality of life here in New Jersey?

  2. ArtGallagher said at 3:45 pm on September 8th, 2011:


    I did not and do not support the Port Authority toll increases. I was very critical of them on this site. You should visit more often and at least check the archives before you go off half cocked crocked.

    Christie is a great story teller.

  3. Robert Martin said at 4:39 pm on September 8th, 2011:

    Saying that Chris Christie is a great story teller is tantamout to saying that Chris Christie lies from time to time. And that, besides being entirely too diplomatic, is being entirely too, well, full of shit.

    Toll increases ARE tax increases. To the extent that these increased toll costs will, certainly, be passed on to all NJ consumers, these toll increases most certainly ARE tax increases that ALL will bear. So much for Christie’s promises not to increase taxes.

    Do you, Governor Christie — or anyone, for that matter — doubt as much? Tell me, what do you, a NJ resident, own that has never been on a truck? What do you own that won’t be made more expensive because of these increased tolls that you, G0vernor Christie, are so inclined to approve?

    $90 to cross a bridge? A 125% increase in tolls over a 4 year period? Tell us again that you, Chris Christie, are fighting for the taxpayer.

    Truckers insulted by 125 percent tax increase in NY-NJ

  4. Bob English said at 6:25 pm on September 8th, 2011:

    The real story hear is that Christie snuck out to Colorado to meet with David Koch and friends. The same David Koch that basically tries to kill every law relating to clean water and clean air and anything designed to reduce global warming. Koch has funneled over $55 to climate change denial anti science groups to fight RGGI…..and yes it’s the same Governor Christie who on his own, unilateraly withdrew, on behalf of New Jersey, from a regional cap-and-trade market created by 10 northeastern states to curb industrial greenhouse gas emissions (the same RGGI that Koch has spent $55 million fighting.) No wonder Koch said Christie is “my kind of guy”

  5. Had Enough said at 10:23 pm on September 8th, 2011:

    This story and the accompanying comments are just one more example that politics is professional wrestling for those who would never be caught dead by their friends or family going to the real thing or watching it on TV. Or perhaps a soap opera is a better comparison. There’s little difference.

    The only contrast between politicos and the grapplers is that the wrestlers are good athletes and entertainers. The politicians, meh. And on the soap operas, the women are *much* better looking.

  6. Observer said at 12:42 pm on September 9th, 2011:

    Chrsitie showed very poor judgement in retelling this tale even if 100% accurate. I presume he has no intention for the rest of his tool kit to pass. So there we are with a compromise that saves pennies while he trumpets how he bailed out the Speaker.

    Future long term employees still get free health care when they retire, and the health care contributions for employees are not permanently locked in. And this is who we think will change the country if he becomes President?