07/18/2011 06:27 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2011

Advocacy group takes on NJ governor's policies

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Democrat-leaning advocacy group was launched in New Jersey on Monday, saying it would "fight back" for the interests of state residents and blaming Republican Governor Chris Christie for drastic budget cuts, high unemployment and tax breaks for the wealthy.

One New Jersey's website features articles on such topics as restoring state aid to cities, criticism of Christie's use of the line-item veto power, and a defense of Planned Parenthood family planning clinics.

"Someone has to fight back. That's why One New Jersey was formed," One New Jersey said in a statement. It said it had registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)4 advocacy group, a tax-exempt designation allowed to raise donations and engage in lobbying and a limited degree of political campaign activity.

Republicans in New Jersey have used similarly designated advocacy groups in support of Christie, notably Reform Jersey Now and Center for a Better New Jersey.

A spokesman for Christie declined to comment on the new group, and the state Republican Party did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

A section of One New Jersey called "Christie By The Numbers" ticks off such items as the amount of state aid cut to schools and the amount of aid cut to nursing homes, countered with the amount of state tax breaks for companies involved in casino construction in Atlantic City.

"With New Jersey's families being squeezed like never before, One New Jersey is shining a light on those elected officials who act against the best interests of New Jersey's residents," it said.

To add a particularly New Jersey touch, the site quotes state native Bruce Springsteen -- "Nobody Wins Unless Everybody Wins" -- on its masthead.

A founder of the site is Joshua Henne, who has worked for Senator Robert Menendez and former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, both Democrats.

At the state Capitol, meanwhile, Christie held a news conference to announce a possible restoration of some $149 million in state aid to cities if the state legislature approved funds for state oversight on how the aid is spent.

A spokesman for Christie said that amount would be up to 1 percent of the total funding.

"I am not going to go back to the old Trenton way of doing things," the governor said, a reference to his view that oversight had been lacking previously.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Ellen Wulfhorst)