Chris Christie discusses email, Hillary Clinton and his decision about 2016
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last night that there is no law requiring state employees to use only state email accounts for government business but that his administration has a year-old policy to encourage the practice.
Christie, who said he maintains a personal email account, said that since early 2014 when emails became an element in the Bridgegate scandal, his administration had instituted a policy requiring employees who use personal accounts for state business to "copy" such message into their state email accounts.
The comments, made during Christie's appearance on the monthly "Ask the Governor" program on the Townsquare Media network, followed a question from host Eric Scott about recent controversy over former Secretary Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account to conduct State Department business.
The governor appeared to sidestep any direct criticism of Clinton, saying only that "people should follow the law." Federal law requiring use of government email accounts for such business followed Clinton's departure from Obama cabinet but her email practices have still attracted broad criticism.
Christie did respond to a question about his chances of winning a head-to-head presidential race against Democratic front-runner Clinton, saying, ”There’s no reason to run unless you think you can. If I ran, I wouldn’t be in it for the experience.”
Christie said his timetable for deciding on a run for president in 2016 remains "late spring, early summer" and joked that his daughter, a freshman at Notre Dame University, is "not thrilled" about the prospect of Secret Service shadowing her on campus.
He also said the announcement Sunday by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that he is seeking the GOP presidential nomination would have no effect on his own timing or ultimate decision.
Christie deflected a question about the current controversy over Clinton's use of a private email account for state department business but said "people should follow the law."
The governor also addressed a range of other topics on the hour-long call-in program:
- He attacked critics of the state's controversial $225 million settlement of the Exxon pollution lawsuit, among them former environmental control commissioner Bradley Campbell, whom Christie called "a know-nothing" and a "hypocrite." Christie repeated his assertion that Exxon will still face an unknown and uncapped cost of actual cleanup, on top of the $225 million penalty. He also took aim at legislative criticism of the settlement, saying: "This is what happens when members of the legislature read the newspaper and think they know what they're talking about."
- Asked by the parent of an 8-year-old child with epilepsy about the delays in licensing doctors to dispense medical marijuana, Christie promised to "check into that," but said of the overall pot legalization program: “There simply isn’t a huge demand for it. . . it was seen as a panacea and it just isn’t."
- Fielding several questions about the drawn-out process of getting New Jerseyans displaced by Superstorm Sandy back into their homes, Christie said the state had “made hundreds of thousands of people whole” but added, “There are going to be people who aren’t going to get their homes rebuilt for some period of time. . . [replacing] 365,000 homes lost is not going to be done in two years.”
- Responded to a caller's question about "lagging state revenues" with fresh criticism of the state legislature's Democratic majority for failing understand that "when people leave the state because it's too expensive to live here, revenue will lag."
- Asked about proposed legislation to tighten required documentation for religious exemptions from the state's mandatory vaccination law, Christie said, "If they put something on my desk that makes sense, I'll sign it. If they put something on my desk that doesn't make sense, I'll veto it."