TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Transit hired or promoted 10 employees with ties to Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration in recent years, moves that all came with raises, including some as high as $70,000, a newspaper reported.
The agency said no Christie administration worker was given special preference over career NJ Transit employees or other qualified candidates for any senior position. But Christie has veto power over the agency through his ability to withhold signing its minutes.
The Record newspaper reviewed months of legislative testimony, court documents and state employee salary data. It found most of the promotions occurred since 2014 and all but one of the 10 employees with Christie connections wound up making more than $100,000 at NJ Transit.
One employee, Christine Baker, joined the agency as the chief of compliance. She replaced Todd Barretta, who was fired in August.
Baker previously earned $134,000 as the counsel to the state attorney general. While her predecessor had a salary of $175,000, state payroll data showed Baker started with a salary of $180,000.
Barretta testified in front of state lawmakers in August that agency employees were intimidated by Christie associates.
“You’re not allowed to speak out against anyone,” he said.
The agency filed a lawsuit against Barretta, saying he disclosed privileged information and misused the car he was provided.