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Times: Corzine Gave Ex-Girlfriend $6M

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine at a news conference, April 9, 2007.
AP
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine gave his ex-girlfriend, a state worker union leader, more than $6 million upon their breakup in 2004, when Corzine was a U.S. senator, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Corzine, a Democrat, and Carla Katz, president of the largest state worker union local, have repeatedly refused to discuss the financial arrangement between them.

But the newspaper reported that lawyers familiar with the deal and union officials who conferred with Katz during recent contract negotiations disclosed Corzine gave Katz more than $6 million. The newspaper relied on anonymous sources it said spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of political retribution.

The package reportedly includes a trust for Katz's two children, now 12 and 15, to attend college, a 2005 Volvo sport utility vehicle that cost about $30,000 and a cash payment used by Katz to buy a $1.1 million Hoboken condominium in November in the same building where Corzine lives.

Mortgage records revealed in 2005 that Corzine gave Katz a $470,000 loan to buy a Hunterdon County home. The loan was forgiven around the time Corzine announced his gubernatorial bid in late 2005.

The Times reported its story was based on interviews with three dozen people, and said it found no clear explanation as to why Corzine paid the money.

A two-member gubernatorial ethics advisory panel recently found the payments neither caused a conflict for Corzine nor tainted recent state worker contract talks because the money was paid before Corzine became governor in January 2006.

But Republicans on Wednesday said they would file a lawsuit against Corzine next week asking a judge to force Corzine to release copies of e-mails between him and Katz.

The administration last month rejected requests for the e-mails by several media outlets, including The Associated Press, and the New Jersey Republican State Committee.

Republicans said the report raised the possibility Corzine should resign.

"The timeline established by the New York Times leaves little room to conclude anything other than that candidate Corzine paid Ms. Katz $6 million to keep her silent and that the payout schedule was designed to give her the appropriate incentive to keep quiet," said Tom Wilson, the state Republican Party chairman. "If that's true, Gov. Corzine would have no choice but to resign immediately."

The report said Corzine agreed to make continued payments to Katz when their relationship ended, but Corzine paid in full as he began his gubernatorial campaign, and no more payments are expected.

The contract talks with the Communication Workers of America union resulted in a tentative deal to raise salaries but cut health and pension benefits for state workers. Katz opposed it, but it was ratified overwhelmingly.

Corzine, a multimillionaire from his stint as Goldman Sachs chairman in the 1990s, dated Katz from 2002 to 2004, when he was a U.S. senator.

Katz is president of CWA Local 1034.

In its report, Corzine's advisory panel noted Corzine and Katz have remained on friendly terms, and talked and e-mailed with each other during the early negotiations, but found Corzine ceased communication entirely with Katz in February as talks intensified.

The panelists recommended anyone with a close relationship to a governor be directed to a specially appointed person within the governor's office when communicating with the administration.

Corzine and Katz refused to speak to the newspaper for its story and neither could immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.