New Jersey Lawmaker Vows To 'Clean Up' Chris Christie's Tesla 'Mess'

New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald issued a statement Wednesday night responding to comments Gov. Chris Christie made at a town hall meeting Monday about the state’s ban that would stop Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to customers.

Greenwald rejected Christie’s claim the matter should be settled between Tesla and the Legislature and promised to “work with my colleagues in the Legislature to clean up the governor’s mess.”

“When it comes to Tesla, Governor Christie needs to get his facts straight. Rather than take responsibility for his own administration’s decision to shut down Tesla, he chose to point fingers and evade accountability. These town hall antics reek of hypocrisy,” Greenwald said. “The governor’s comments are a classic example of passing the buck in the face of an unpopular decision instead of accepting responsibility.”

On March 11, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a measure preventing auto manufacturers from selling cars without using franchise dealers. The new regulations would force Tesla, which uses a direct-sales model, to shut its two stores in the state by April 1. In a series of blog posts and tweets published last week, Tesla labelled the Commission’s decision a “backroom deal” between Christie and the car dealers’ lobby that took place “outside the legislative process.” At the town hall meeting Monday, Christie fired back and argued Tesla was always told New Jersey law prohibited its direct-sales model. He said he would have “no problem” allowing Tesla to sell cars in New Jersey if the company works with the Legislature to change the law.

“We tried to work with them when they first started to operate, to tell them that they were not operating within the law, didn’t shut them down immediately,” said Christie. “There came a point when I had to enforce the law. That point came. If the law changes, I’m happy to enforce the new law.”

In his statement, Greenwald countered by accusing Christie and the Commission of “changing their rules” on Tesla.

“Here are the facts: the Motor Vehicle Commission previously issued Tesla a licence to sell cars in New Jersey. Now, MVC is changing their rules so that Tesla will no longer be allowed to operate in New Jersey. This was not an act of the legislature, but rather Governor Christie’s administration changing its mind about Tesla,” Greenwald said. “Instead of taking responsibility for his administration, Governor Christie instead chose to manufacture a crisis and blame the legislature. Nevertheless, given the importance of this issue, I will work with my colleagues in the legislature to clean up the governor’s mess. The policy priorities of encouraging innovation, promoting environmental protection, and accommodating consumer concerns are of paramount importance. I have met with both sides of this issue, and I look forward to working collaboratively to find a solution, rather than finger-pointing in an effort to score political points.”

Greenwald is one of several Democrats in the state Legislature who have indicated they would be willing to put forth a bill that would change the law.

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