New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie portrays himself as a "straight-talker" who ignores political calculations when it means standing up for his state. But that carefully-manicured image has crumbled over the past weeks as more details come out about his shameful veto of a common sense animal protection bill. A new report adds to an emerging, more accurate image of Christie: a man who will refuse to even engage with his constituents on an issue they care passionately about while meeting with out-of-state special interest groups.
Earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats in New Jersey joined together to overwhelmingly pass a bill for the second time that would prohibit the pork industry’s inhumane practice of confining female pigs used for breeding in "gestation crates," metal cages so small they can’t even turn around. Immobilized for nearly four years, these highly intelligent animals suffer both physically and mentally. The bill was supported by the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, animal protection groups across the state, and 93 percent of New Jersey voters.
On its face, signing this bill sounds like an open-and-shut decision, but Christie vetoed it instead. Why would Christie turn his back on his constituents? Many political commentators have suggested that he did so to placate powerful players a thousand miles away in Iowa.
Iowa is the largest pork producing state in the country, and also the home to the all-important first caucus in the 2016 presidential primaries. That suspicion was reinforced when Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (who was exposed for making stunningly uninformed and false claims about the legislation) bragged about lobbying Christie to veto it.
Last week more proof surfaced in a New York Times interview with notoriously anti-animal Iowa Rep. Steve King. Regarding a dinner he organized for Christie, King says “there were several of the pork producers there for that purpose [to discuss the gestation crate ban]. I helped arrange that conversation. And they got a real straight answer. Christie followed through on that.”
So while Christie made time to dine in Iowa with pork producers and give them a “real straight answer,” he consistently ignored or evaded thousands of his actual constituents who contacted him in support of the bill. He didn’t attend a meeting with national and state animal protection groups, and ignored requests to meet with twin teenage New Jersey Republican girls who came to his office to deliver more than 125,000 signatures they gathered. He also steadfastly snubbed New Jersey reporters when they asked about the bill.
In light of the new evidence of this secret meeting with Steve King, there really can be no doubt remaining that Christie is more concerned about placating special interests in Iowa than listening to his constituents. And in this case, animals paid the price.