The Associated Press April 14, 2011, 10:52AM ET

NJ gov rips senator for taking salary, pension

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday lashed out at state senator who is a frequent critic for collecting a pension and salary at the same time.

The GOP governor said the media should "take the bat out" on Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg, 76, whom he said deserved a "hypocrisy award" for saying that he was slow to criticize another politician who was collecting a salary and pension for the same job.

In an April 3 article in The Star-Ledger of Newark, Weinberg suggested that Christie wasn't harsh enough or quick enough in criticizing political allies, in particular Essex County executive and Democratic power broker Joe DiVincenzo, Jr., who took advantage of a loophole to collect a pension while continuing to draw a paycheck from the same six-figure job.

At the time Christie hadn't said anything about the revelation that DiVincenzo was double-dipping.

"There's obviously double standards," Weinberg told the newspaper. Days later she admitted that she, too, could be called a double-dipper because she had started collecting a state pension while continuing to receive her lawmaker salary.

Christie, 48, later chastised DiVincenzo for taking advantage of a loophole to start collecting $68,856 in pension benefits on top of his $156,207 salary without ever leaving his job as head of the county of 771,000 residents. But Christie stopped short of calling on him to quit taking retirement benefits or return the money.

On Wednesday, Christie called Weinberg the "queen of double standards" for taking a $49,000 lawmaker salary as she simultaneously draws about $40,000 a year in pension benefits.

Weinberg, a fiery grandmother known for wagging her disapproving finger at the governor and who ran as a lieutenant governor candidate on former Gov. Jon Corzine's losing ticket, has said she only began collecting her pension last year from her former Bergen County job after losing about $1.3 million in investments to disgraced Wall Street investor Bernard Madoff.

"Though I never went in to public service to make money, I am grateful for this income at this time of my life, because of the situation Bernie Madoff created for me," Weinberg said in a recent blog post on the BlueJersey.com website.

On Wednesday, Christie said Weinberg was "hiding behind Bernie Madoff."

Derek Roseman, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said Weinberg was on a plane to California on Wednesday to visit her grandchildren.

"The senator does not wish to dignify that with a response," Roseman said.


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