With polls showing Republican Chris Christie ahead in the New Jersey governor race, House Democrats have asked the former U.S. Attorney to testify about a contract worth up to $52 million his office awarded former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Christie hasn’t decided whether he will appear at the June 25 hearing, but his campaign confirmed he’d been asked to appear, the Associated Press reports.
The hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on commercial and administrative law was postponed last month after the Christie campaign complained it was intended to embarass him in advance of the June 2 Republican primary. Christie defeated conservative challenger Steve Lonegan in the primary. He now faces incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in a Nov. 3 general election.
Corzine is struggling in New Jersey. Polls show voters blame him for the bad economy and are angry that property tax rebates have been canceled.
On Wednesday two New Jersey Democrats, Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., held a conference call with reporters to criticize Christie, saying his leadership of the U.S. Attorney office in New Jersey
“I have serious questions that he could’ve put his whole campaign together so suddenly, and never engaged in conversations about politics while he was U.S. attorney,” Menendez said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Pascrell, meanwhile, is co-sponsor along with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) of a bill to reform the court-monitoring process. The legislation was introduced in 2008 after revelations that Christie’s office had awarded the firm of his former boss, Ashcroft, a contract worth up to $52 million to monitor a company’s compliance with a DOJ settlement.
The legislation aims to take selection of court monitors away from U.S. Attorneys and establish professional guidelines for awarding them.