Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NJ Road Salt Denied by Big Donor to NJ Democratic Party

While the media has made much about the so-called "Bridge-gate" in New Jersey, it would appear that the Department of Homeland Security has held up a desperately-needed salt shipment as punishment to embattled governor Chris Christie. Christie issued an executive order to alleviate the salt crisis on February 12, 2014. State officials requested a waiver to the Jones Act to allow a freighter with 40,000 tons of salt to disembark in New Jersey. By February 12th and 13th, they were denied.

According to the Governor's order:
I authorize and empower the Commissioner of the
Department of Transportation to take all appropriate steps to
alleviate the shortage of rock salt throughout the State in all
matters concerning this state of emergency.

While the Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez have asked for a wiaver to allow the salt to be delivered, they said that they only learned of the issue after February 13th. However, NJDOT officials were rejected by the DHS beforehand:
Simpson last Friday referred to discussions with federal officials which he said had gone on for several days without producing a waiver of the Jones Act. A spokesman for the NJDOT repeated this assertion Tuesday, with more detail, saying that waiver discussions with federal officials had begun Feb. 9 and resulted in emails to the NJDOT Feb. 12 and 13, asserting that a waiver would not be granted.

Current Secretary Jeh Johnson would have the authority to grant or deny such a request and evidence seems to indicate that he refused the request last week. Johnson spoke to Christie and Cuomo last month about, in part, dealing with extreme weather issues.

Johnson has every reason to deny the request for political reasons. A major Democratic fundraiser, he raised for both Bob Menendez and the late Frank Lautenberg. Johnson also gave $5,000 in 2008 to the New Jersey Democratic Party.


The denial has hamstrung New Jersey and it has been insinuated that the denial of a waiver has been caused by Governor Christie's vacation.

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