Christie Faces Mounting Suits Over Public Records

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took office promising “a new era of accountability and transparency.” Yet after he won a second term last year and as he explores a run for president, his administration stands accused of routinely stonewalling even the most basic requests for public records.

Attorneys involved in lawsuits filed in search of public records say they have seen a spike in the number of such cases in the past six months.

The lawyers, along with media organizations and watchdog groups, also say they have received more arbitrary justifications for the denial of requests made under New Jersey’s open records law, as well as an increased willingness by the state attorney general’s office to fight such requests in court.

“The quality of the denials is getting dumber,” said lawyer Walter Luers. “They’re just kind of making reasons to not give us stuff.”

Christie on Friday insisted that his administration was as transparent as he said it would be. “You guys want everything. You’re not entitled to everything. So we give you what you’re entitled to under the law. And I think that’s fair.”

Journalists asking for copies of Christie’s calendar — a record routinely disclosed by other governors — receive copies of his public event advisories instead.

Jennifer Borg of the North Jersey Media Group, which has eight lawsuits pending against the state, complained of more aggressive stonewalling in the past year.

She said it had a “tremendous” impact on news gathering.