Lesniak blasts Christie’s $300 million redecorating scheme

The State Capitol Joint Management Commission moved forward Gov. Chris Christie’s controversial $300 million plan to renovate the crumbling executive office building.

An infuriated Democratic state Senator Raymond Lesniak vowed to sue to void the commission’s vote because he was not allowed to see documents related to the resolution even though they were made available to commissioners last week.

Since Christie announced the project in November, Lesniak has unsuccessfully sought details on how the funds will be spent. Lesniak, a candidate for governor, said he most recently requested documents last month under the state’s Open Public Records Act.

“This deceit and collusion to keep the public in the dark before the vote, by violating the OPRA law, gives the court a basis to void the vote,” Lesniak said.

Despite the $300 million price tag of the  proposed renovation, Christie’s administration continued to withhold cost breakdowns and other details.

Lesniak’s request for public records related to the renovation has been repeatedly delayed by the treasury department, as have requests by Bloomberg News and other media organizations.

“Christie has found a way to avoid any legislative approval or public notice,” Lesniak said.

The commission voted 7-0, with one abstention, after some members raised questions about spending on a job that will close a portion of the statehouse for four years as repairs and upgrades are under construction.

Similar renovations in other states have run into years-long delays and millions of dollars in unexpected costs.

Commission member Mary Alice Messenger, executive director of the Assembly Majority office, abstained from voting, saying she didn’t have a “comfort level” with information on finances. She also said she had doubts on whether the project’s approval was within the commission’s authority.



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