In the wake of media attention surrounding his under-the-radar gastric band surgery, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told reporters at a news conference last week that though he underwent anesthesia, he never officially transfered power to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Christie said he was confident in his surgeon, George Fielding, and did not feel the need to make arrangements in case anything went awry during his Feb. 16 procedure.
"No, I was in charge," Christie told reporters, according to USA Today. "It's like asking if I decide to take a nap on Saturday afternoon, do I call her and say, 'Hey Kim, I'm taking a nap for 40 minutes, you're in charge.' Ridiculous."
But political scientist Ben Dworkin questioned Christie's judgement this week, saying that precautions should be taken whenever a politician undergoes a medical operation and is not awake, despite the state's constitution being unclear on the issue.
“You can wake up from a nap. You can’t wake up from anesthesia,” Dworkin, director of Rider’s Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, told the Asbury Park Press. “Even when the governor is out of state, it can be argued that technology allows him to make immediate decisions and stay in control. But that’s when he’s awake or can be woken up."
According to the New Jersey State Constitution, in a governor’s “absence from the state” or when the governor has an “inability to discharge the duties of the office ... the functions, powers, duties and emoluments of the office shall devolve upon the [lieutenant governor].”
Christie's decision has also faced scrutiny because of a lawsuit involving Fielding, his surgeon. USA Today reported that Fielding is in the midst of a wrongful death lawsuit following the death of Rebecca Quatinetz. The 27-year-old woman underwent the same procedure as Christie at New York University's Langone Weight Management Program in 2009.