Earlier today Pando published the findings of our investigation into the New Jersey pension fund and its relationship with Chatham Asset Management.
As part of that investigation we have also learned that Chatham made a large in-kind donation to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, which is chaired by the governor’s wife, Mary Pat Christie. That charity has been plagued by allegations that it is a stealth conduit for corporations to buy influence and circumvent campaign finance regulations.
In an interview with Pando, a spokeswoman for the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund acknowledged that Chatham Asset Management housed the 501(c)3 organization from November 2012 to February 2013, a total in-kind donation value of approximately $15,000.
For his part, Gov. Christie has denied that the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund would be used as a way to wield influence with him. At a 2013 press conference, he said donors to the charity “know, because they know me, that it will not one iota affect the way I execute my job as governor or any decisions I have to make as governor regarding the use of public money.”
In response to Pando’s request for comment, a Chatham Asset Management spokesperson said: “We are proud that our small contribution helped enable the successful formation of what ultimately became a $40 million charity fundraising effort.” Chatham did not respond to questions about whether its donation to the fund had anything to do with the Christie administration awarding it a pension management contract.
To date, Chatham does not have New Jersey pension money under management, as the New Jersey deal Pando reported earlier today is still pending. Chatham earlier threatened to sue Pando if we reported that they had received any New Jersey pension funds. However, documents on the website of New Jersey’s Department of Treasury outline the proposed pending deal.
The Christie administration has still refused to comment on whether in light of the RNC donations it will now follow New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws and its Department of Treasury rules and rescind the proposed pension management contract. Those laws and rules say a state contract cannot be offered to an investment management firm that has recently made political donations influencing state elections.
[image via thinkstock]