By Mark Lagerkvist | New Jersey Watchdog
To fight selective government secrecy, New Jersey Watchdog is trying to obtain news releases from Gov. Chris Christie under the state public records law.
Christie’s staff has not responded to the site’s requests to be added to the list of news outlets that receive press advisories, official announcements and daily schedules from the governor’s office. In contrast, New Jersey Watchdog is on the press lists for both the Republican and Democratic leaderships of the state Senate and Assembly.
The first Open Public Records Act request was submitted today. Under statute, the governor’s office has seven business days to respond. If the request is denied, New Jersey Watchdog can sue Christie in Superior Court for belated release of the news releases.
The governor and his staff have not offered any explanation for blacklisting New Jersey Watchdog. Being excluded from a timely flow of information from the state’s highest-ranking public official typically puts a news organization at competitive disadvantage.
Paradoxically, Christie promotes himself as a reformer who champions open government and transparency.
The Christie Administration has been a subject of numerous investigative reports by New Jersey Watchdog, including stories on double-dipping, travel, ethics and “Doublegate” – a pension scandal that implicated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
For two consecutive years, New Jersey Watchdog has won New York Press Club awards for outstanding political coverage. Last year, it was named best independent online news site by the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The four-year-old investigative news site is credentialed by the New Jersey State Police and New Jersey Press Association. It is one of 30 state news operations funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a non-profit 501c3 organization, as a public service.