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After Pay To Play Accusations Christie Administration Sells Stake In Venture Firm

charlesbaker

The New Jersey Pension Fund has now sold a stake in a venture capital firm tied to one of  Governor Christie’s campaign contributors according to The Bergen Record. The investment by the NJ Pension Fund in General Catalyst Partners became a scandal when it was revealed that one of the beneficiaries of that investment, Charles Baker, had contributed to Governor Chris Christie’s reelection campaign, arguably in violation of New Jersey’s pay to play law.

Besides being involved in General Catalyst Partners and contributing to Republican causes, Baker is also running for governor in the state of Massachusetts. The issue of the questionable donation has dogged his campaign and has raised questions regarding his ethics and whether he sought a quid pro quo for his firm from Christie when making the campaign contribution.

Governor Christie and his staff have avoided talking about the story in hopes of denying it oxygen. But clearly some members of the Christie Administration took notice as the stake was reportedly sold in August.

The $15 million investment in General Catalyst was sold in August, according to a report published Monday by Fortune magazine. In May, the state Department of Treasury launched an internal review to determine if the purchase of the investment adhered to the state’s conflict of interest laws.

On Monday Treasury spokesman Chris Santarelli said he could not confirm or deny the sale of the investment. A spokeswoman for General Catalyst could not be reached for comment. The investment became an issue in the Massachusetts governor’s race earlier this year after Democratic candidate Martha Coakley questioned Republican opponent Charlie Baker’s contribution to the New Jersey Republican Party in 2011, the same year the New Jersey Investment Council approved a $15 million stake in General Catalyst.

The story was broken by David Sirota and circulated throughout the financial and New Jersey press. Initially, pension fund officials defended the investment on grounds that Baker with his ambiguous title of “executive in residence” at General Cataylst did not make him an “investment manager” of the firm which is the apparent criteria the pension fund uses to apply the pay to play regulations.

Despite that initial defense it seems the pension fund agreed somewhat with the critique as they sold the stake. Though it is hard to say why the stake was sold with no one from the Christie Administration willing to comment. Was it to avoid the appearance of corruption? Of course that would be a problematic justification for the sale due to the initial defense also including the claim that the NJ pension fund does not play politics with pensioner money.

CommunityThe Bullpen

After Pay To Play Accusations Christie Administration Sells Stake In Venture Firm

charlesbaker

The New Jersey Pension Fund has now sold a stake in a venture capital firm tied to one of  Governor Christie’s campaign contributors according to The Bergen Record. The investment by the NJ Pension Fund in General Catalyst Partners became a scandal when it was revealed that one of the beneficiaries of that investment, Charles Baker, had contributed to Governor Chris Christie’s reelection campaign, arguably in violation of New Jersey’s pay to play law.

Besides being involved in General Catalyst Partners and contributing to Republican causes, Baker is also running for governor in the state of Massachusetts. The issue of the questionable donation has dogged his campaign and has raised questions regarding his ethics and whether he sought a quid pro quo for his firm from Christie when making the campaign contribution.

Governor Christie and his staff have avoided talking about the story in hopes of denying it oxygen. But clearly some members of the Christie Administration took notice as the stake was reportedly sold in August.

The $15 million investment in General Catalyst was sold in August, according to a report published Monday by Fortune magazine. In May, the state Department of Treasury launched an internal review to determine if the purchase of the investment adhered to the state’s conflict of interest laws.

On Monday Treasury spokesman Chris Santarelli said he could not confirm or deny the sale of the investment. A spokeswoman for General Catalyst could not be reached for comment. The investment became an issue in the Massachusetts governor’s race earlier this year after Democratic candidate Martha Coakley questioned Republican opponent Charlie Baker’s contribution to the New Jersey Republican Party in 2011, the same year the New Jersey Investment Council approved a $15 million stake in General Catalyst.

The story was broken by David Sirota and circulated throughout the financial and New Jersey press. Initially, pension fund officials defended the investment on grounds that Baker with his ambiguous title of “executive in residence” at General Cataylst did not make him an “investment manager” of the firm which is the apparent criteria the pension fund uses to apply the pay to play regulations.

Despite that initial defense it seems the pension fund agreed somewhat with the critique as they sold the stake. Though it is hard to say why the stake was sold with no one from the Christie Administration willing to comment. Was it to avoid the appearance of corruption? Of course that would be a problematic justification for the sale due to the initial defense also including the claim that the NJ pension fund does not play politics with pensioner money.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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