Corzine’s E-Mail Fiasco: A Profound Lack Of Judgment?

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By Michael M. Shapiro

Governor Corzine’s refusal to release e-mails exchanged with Carla Katz, head of the CWA, despite a Court Order to do so, is troubling. The Governor is claiming executive privilege and, although he continues to fight the Court Order, he recently acknowledged that because of his upcoming battle for re-election, he may accede to the Court’s wishes and release the e-mails. State Republican Chairman Tom Wilson had requested the communications soon after the CWA and the Governor’s Office came to agreement regarding a new contract last year. In May, Superior Court Judge Paul Innes decided that the e-mails constituted public information and ordered them released. While the Governor is concerned that his refusal to turn over the e-mails will be an issue when he runs for re-election, he is missing the bigger picture: his lack of judgment regarding the exchange of the e-mails in the first place.

Love can make people do crazy things, but it is no defense for the Governor’s ineptitude on this issue. Governor Corzine was the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs, one of the most sophisticated investment banks in the world. He later was a United States Senator, only one of a hundred to hold the prestigious post. Finally, he became Governor of New Jersey. A person holding any of these positions should recognize that utmost discretion needs to be used when exchanging e-mails with the head of the State’s most powerful union. Furthermore, anyone in such a position must know that one needs to keep one’s personal life and one’s business life completely separate and devoid of potential conflicts. Finally, anyone with a basic understanding of the right of the public to access government information should recognize that when a government official and a union leader are exchanging e-mails, those e-mails are likely to be deemed public information.

Corzine’s most recent comments on the issue indicating that he no longer uses e-mail because of the controversy are equally disturbing. The solution to the problem is not that the Governor should no longer use e-mail. It is that he should exercise good judgment when he sends e-mail.

Governor Corzine should immediately turn over the e-mails in question and re-enter the world of electronic mail, exercising good judgment and common sense in the process.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com
Contact Mike at mike@shaptalk.com


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