Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver called NJ Gov Christie'a assertions "outright lies," and said she wonders if the governor is "mentally deranged"

N.J. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver tells the Philidelphia Inquirer that Gov. Chris Christie was lying when he told a crowd of gathered Republican supporters that she had asked him to help save her job during the final tense moments before the landmark vote on pension and benefits reform.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Oliver called NJ Gov Christie'a  assertions "outright lies," and said she wonders if the governor is "mentally deranged."

In June, while giving the keynote address at a conference of Republican donors, Christie recounted a story about a phone call he received from Oliver while she caucused with members over the reform bill, which was wildly unpopular among her caucus.  Christie said Oliver told him she wanted to post the bill for vote, but was afraid she might face a coup from angry caucus members.


Now, I've told you a couple of bad stories about Senate President Steve Sweeney. So let me tell you a good one. Because it was alluded to in the introductions that David talked about, about what happened in New Jersey last week. And I will tell you that something that I think is truly historic happened in New Jersey, and something that will be a model for the rest of the country. The pension benefit bill I proposed it in September. And I held 30 town halls all over New Jersey, in every county in the state, selling our plan. Explaining to people in plain English a 54 billion dollar deficit in the pension fund and how teachers, police officers, firefighters, other public sector workers, they're not going to collect a pension. The pension could very well be insolvent by 2018." And explained to folks how public employees are paying near nothing for their health insurance. And it was on the backs of the taxpayers. And we built a case.

And then finally this spring the Senate president came up with his own plan and we began to negotiate. And talk to each other. And during the day I'd go out on the stump and beat the bejeezus out of him and then late in the afternoon or evening we'd get together in my office alone and we made a promise to each other. We've got to fix this problem. It can't be about party. It's got to be about the people that we're here to serve. And he looked at me and said, "I'm going to be your partner on this. We're going to fix it. And we're going to fix it the right way." And then the Assembly Speaker, another Democrat, got brought into the negotiations. And for the last two months we have been negotiating with each other. And two weeks ago Wednesday we announced that we had come to an agreement. And here's the thing. Most of the Democrats in the legislature wanted to have nothing to do with this bill. Nothing to do with it. And they're in the majority. But these two leaders stood firm. Said, "We're going to post this to a vote and we're going to force you to vote on it. Because it's the right thing to do." And last Monday the New Jersey State Senate, with only 8 of the 24 Democrats who are in the Senate, passed that bill with 16 Republicans, 24 to 15. A true bipartisan coming together. [applause]

And Thursday night it came time for the Assembly. And they started to caucus at 11:00 in the morning. They were supposed to start voting at 1:00. It got to be 5:30 and they were still in the caucus room. And the reports I was getting out of there were not positive about what was going on to my friend the Speaker. She was takin' a beating at the hands of her own party. At 5:30 she called me and she said to me, "Governor, I don't know how this is going to play out, but I'm going to, I want to post the bill but I think when I go on the floor, my own party's going to take a run at me to remove me as Speaker. So I can't post the bill." She said, "I think the only way I survive is if the 33 Republicans in the chamber will agree to vote for me for Speaker. Can you work it out?" [scattered laughter] So I said, "Give me five minutes." [laughter]

So I went down to the Republican Assembly caucus room. I stood at the front of the room and I said, "Ladies and gentleman, it's a historic day today. You're going to get an opportunity to cast two historic votes." [laughter] "The first one, of course, is about pension and benefit reform and I know that everybody in this room supports it. The second one is a little more unusual." [laughter] I said, "Probably for the only time in my governorship I'm going to actually ask you to vote for a Democrat. I said Sheila Oliver is under siege. And she wants to do the right thing. And we cannot be slaves to party or partisanship. She is right on this issue and she is with us on this issue. So if they take a run at her on the floor, I need all of you to vote for her for Speaker." I had these men and women look back at me like, "What?" [scattered laughter] And I said to 'em, "We were sent here to lead. Not to preen and posture, posture and pose. To lead. A public office to lead. We need to do this. So raise your hands. Are you with me or aren't you?" All 33 of them raised their hands and said they were with me.

And so I went back to my office, I got on the phone and I called the Speaker, and I said, "You just got 33 new votes." And she said, "Well, you just got yourself a bill." And she went on the floor, she led the debate, another two and a half hours of debate. They never took a run at her. It was the Minority Leader who suddenly went over to the Majority Leader of the Assembly, it was the guy who was gonna take a run at her, and said, "By the way, we've got her back, so don't try it." [very scattered chuckles] They didn't. They opened up the board, they cast the votes, by then 46 to 32, with 33 Republicans and 13 Democrats, we passed health and pension reform that will save the taxpayers of New Jersey over the next 30 years at least 132 billion dollars. [audience: "wows", whistles, applause]

When I get back to New Jersey tomorrow morning, we will sign the bill on Tuesday and make it law and it will become effective July 1st. And that's what we were sent to do to govern.  

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