Court Date Set for Lawsuit About Corzine E-mail

By: E&P Staff With New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine promising a fight to keep a governor's e-mail private, an August court date was set on a Republican lawsuit trying to make public e-mail between Corzine and a state union leader he dated.

Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg ordered Corzine to appear in court on Aug. 3 to argue why his e-mail should remain private.

Republicans filed the lawsuit on May 31.

Tom Wilson, the state Republican Party chairman, said he particularly wants e-mail between the Democratic Corzine and his staff with Carla Katz, a state worker union leader and Corzine's ex-girlfriend, during recent state worker contract talks.

Corzine's office has denied public records requests by Republicans and news outlets, including The Associated Press, for the e-mail between Corzine and Katz, claiming they're private.

"We've made all the arguments and we'll be making them in court," Corzine said. "I think that we're very clear on both privacy issues and executive privilege."

Corzine said it's vital that e-mails by any governor remain private.

"I'm not going to give up executive privilege, not only for myself but for succeeding governors who need to be able to communicate with their staff and the public," he said on Monday. "I think that would be a bad long-term decision."

Wilson scoffed at Corzine's stance.

"The law is the law and Governor Corzine should stop acting as if he's above it," Wilson said. "If the e-mails are as innocent and meaningless as Corzine claims, then why not just turn them over? The governor shouldn't use Nixonesque legal arguments to try to hide his behind the scenes wheeling and dealing with Carla Katz."

Katz is president of Communications Workers of America Local 1034, the largest state workers union chapter, representing 8,000 state government employees.

Katz and Corzine dated from 2002 to 2004 when Corzine was a U.S. senator, a relationship that came under scrutiny after it was learned the multimillionaire Corzine gave Katz large sums of money when their relationship ended just before Corzine began his gubernatorial bid.

It's been known since 2005 that Corzine gave Katz $470,000 to pay off a home mortgage, and The New York Times recently reported that Corzine gave Katz more than $6 million in all.

Corzine and Katz have refused to discuss the gifts, but contend the relationship and payments pose no conflicts because they occurred before Corzine became governor. Corzine's ethics advisory panel recently agreed, but Republicans still question whether the relationship tainted contract talks.

While it found no wrongdoing, Corzine's two-person ethics advisory panel noted Katz and Corzine communicated during negotiations that resulted in a deal to increase salaries but cut health and pension benefits for state workers. Katz opposed the deal.


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