New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last week that during his time as the state’s U.S. Attorney he “wound up putting 10 percent of the state legislature in jail” over the course of his seven-year tenure.
The statistic is unequivocally false, according to PolitiFact New Jersey, the fact-checking arm of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper. The percentage is closer to 3 percent, according to the group’s analysis.
During the Republican governor’s time as U.S. Attorney, from 2002 to the end of 2008, 185 people served — either in the Senate or Assembly — in the state legislature. Christie’s office charged five legislators: state Sens. Wayne Bryant, Joseph Coniglio and Sharpe James and Assemblymen Mims Hackett and Alfred Steele. All five Democrats spent time in jail.
The federal investigation of two other state legislators began while Christie was U.S. Attorney, but they did not serve jail time until after he left office, according to PolitiFact.
“The fact remains that Christie didn’t jail 10 percent of the state legislature during his time as U.S. Attorney,” according to the PolitiFact report.
Christie’s spokesman brushed the report off, telling PolitiFact that the governor was “making a rhetorical point” about his record in combating public corruption and “not … citing … some baseball statistic.”
“The governor was emphasizing, conversationally, the gravity of the corruption which in those years reached into the highest levels of the legislature as well as high-ranking party bosses and operatives,” Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, said.