Christie: Campaign Finance System Is "Ridiculous"

Christie: Campaign Finance System Is "Ridiculous"
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SOMERSET, N.J. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called for the abolishment of current federal and statewide campaign finance rules, and instead supported allowing unlimited donations to individual candidates with a public notification required within 48 hours.

“If somebody, you know, wants to write me a $100,000 check for my campaign, great,” Christie said of the system he is proposing. “Forty-eight hours later, everybody who has access to the Internet’s going to know that Mr. Smith gave me $100,000. And if all of a sudden I start talking in a way after it happened that’s favorable to Mr. Smith’s business, then you’re going to know that my price is $100,000.”

Christie’s comments came at a town-hall meeting in response to a student’s question related to a recent Supreme Court decision. That 5-4 ruling struck down aggregate limits on the amount individuals could previously contribute to candidates, political parties and political action committees over a two-year period.

His remarks were notable, in part, because of Christie’s current role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which requires traveling the country to help raise millions of dollars for GOP gubernatorial candidates ahead of the November elections.

But Christie characterized the convoluted rules that govern the current campaign finance regime “ridiculous,” adding that the premise that money could be removed altogether from politics is “not going to happen.”

A potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Christie called for making the system more transparent.

He drew laughter from the crowd of several hundred when he noted that many of the most powerful super PACs that acted on behalf of the 2012 presidential contenders – groups that the candidates were not officially allowed to coordinate with -- were being run by close associates of the White House hopefuls.

“The presidential candidates this past time in 2012 -- they all had these super PACs that were separate from the campaign, so if they’ve got an ad, the candidate could say, ‘It’s not my ad. It’s the super PAC’s ad. I had nothing to do with it,’” Christie said. “Well, tell them to stop. ‘I can’t tell them to stop. If I told them to stop, I would be coordinating with them, which is against the law, so I can’t say anything.’ So it’s silliness.”

Last month, Christie was among four prospective Republican presidential candidates who traveled to Las Vegas to speak at an event hosted by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The billionaire casino magnate contributed almost $100 million to party causes during the 2012 race and has vowed to donate even more in the 2016 cycle.

Christie also met privately with Adelson while in Las Vegas.

The question about campaign finance was the last of 13 queries Christie answered during the town-hall meeting, which otherwise focused on New Jersey’s troubled state finances.

The two-term governor was not asked about the scandal involving traffic-lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, the circumstances of which are still being investigated by a state legislative panel and the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey. 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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