You may have heard the news this week about Gawker, the governor and the Fox News executive, but here’s the latest.
When Gawker reporter John Cook read that Fox News head Roger Ailes had met with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to urge him to run for president, it piqued his journalistic interest. Cook asked the New Jersey government for more information using the state’s open records law. The governor’s office replied that any records that existed would be protected from public view by the governor’s executive privilege.
But that response from the governor’s office wasn’t exactly correct. That’s why the ACLU-NJ filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cook and Gawker on Monday. Executive privilege doesn’t automatically apply to everything the governor does – only his constitutional obligations as the state’s chief executive.
Just hours after the ACLU-NJ filed its lawsuit, the governor responded with the information Cook had requested two months earlier: Christie had met with Ailes, over dinner on Sept. 11, 2010.
We’re glad that the governor finally released his calendar (though it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to make it happen), but his response raised more serious questions than it answered. Namely, is it standard operating procedure to respond to every request with executive privilege unless it’s questioned in court? The ACLU-NJ promptly wrote to the Governor’s counsel asking for a meeting to discuss how his office observes transparency.
We hope that Governor Christie will be as forthcoming with that information, but we need your help to keep the pressure on. Tell Governor Christie that you value open government and expect him to live up to his promises of transparency, starting with rethinking his liberal use of executive privilege.
ACLU of New Jersey