Prieto, CWA criticize Christie for lottery privatization

TRENTON – The Assembly lawmaker who led the charge against allowing Gov. Chris Christie to move forward with lottery privatization says he’s disappointed with today’s announcement from the Department of Treasury.

Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), says he feels Christie put “ideology over fiscal common sense” by moving forward with lottery privatization plans.

The statement came after the Department of Treasury announced its plans to award a 15-year contract with a private firm to take over the New Jersey Lottery’s marketing and sales operations.

“It’s disappointing to see Gov. Christie moving forward with a plan that has never been explained publicly, despite our invitations to do so,” Prieto said.

“The Christie administration is now set to forfeit substantial long-term revenue for a one-shot payment while also hurting small business owners and risking vital programs for our students, veterans, senior citizens and the disabled,” he said. “The fact that Gov. Christie plans to give the contract to the only bid that was submitted only increases my concern. This casts further doubt on whether this is a smart move. How do we know we are getting the best deal if we have nothing to compare it to?”

Prieto was the prime sponsor of legislation in the lower chamber that sought to require legislative approval for lottery privatization.

The Communications Workers of America of New Jersey, which represents state lottery workers, also issued a release criticizing the governor.

“At every turn, the Christie administration has steadfastly refused to answer questions and been secretive in trying to slip through their risky, unpopular lottery privatization scheme,” said Seth Hahn, legislative director for CWA of NJ, in a statement.

Hahn said the CWA is planning to take legal action to prevent the privatization.

“True to form, they’ve decided to release their decision to award a 15-year contract at 4 p.m. on a Friday in the hopes that no one will notice,” he said. “This short-sighted, illegal, politically-connected deal needs to be examined in the light of day. As such, we are contacting the head of New Jersey State Lottery immediately to challenge the Christie administration’s giveaway, and will take every action at our legal disposal to stop it. This lottery privatization scheme is bad for taxpayers, bad for small businesses, bad for jobs, and illegal.”

"Sit down and shut up!"
—Gov. Chris Christie, to a Hurricane Sandy heckler