A few days ago, Christie joined Cameo, where users hire celebrities to create short personalized videos. He joined the ranks of political personalities such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandoski and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Christie — a Republican — soon received a message from someone named Brad Ley, and it read: “Governor — huge fan (and so glad you’re doing better)! My buddy Greg (who is also a big fan!) has been working out of state the last few years & me and his family have been trying to get him to come home to N.J. Could you give him some encouragement?”
So, clad in a mustard yellow University of Delaware fleece, Christie made a 50-second video.
“Now, I understand you left New Jersey some time ago for work, and that happens sometimes. But Jersey never quite leaves you, does it? Now, think about everything we’ve got back here,” he begins, listing Taylor ham, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, the Jersey Shore, the boardwalks and “all that stuff back here that is waiting for you.”
“More than anything else, Mike and your whole family, they want you back here,” he adds. “So listen, we could do this the easy way or the hard way. You could come back voluntarily, or maybe they’ll send me out to get you. I don’t think that’s what you want, Greg.”
What Christie didn’t know is that Brad Ley was Brad Elkins, the campaign manager for Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, the Democratic candidate for governor of Montana. Cooney’s Republican opponent, Rep. Greg Gianforte, lived in New Jersey for years.
In other words, it was a setup.
What began on Cameo quickly became a Twitter war (well, skirmish).
Christie tweeted out an image of the Cameo order. “Shame on @CooneyforMT. Same to @DemGovs. I am doing Cameo to benefit a NJ charity that shelters & treats drug & alcohol addicted pregnant women & they send this misleading request and then push it out as a shot of @GregForMontana. I SUPPORT Greg Gianforte for Governor-absolutely!” he wrote.
The charity is the Center for Great Expectations, a New Jersey-based substance abuse and mental health center.
Cooney, seemingly eager to get on the Taylor ham/pork roll debate, tweeted back, “Governor, two things:
1. Always happy to contribute to a worthwhile and important cause
2. I look forward to one day laughing about this on the boardwalk over a Taylor ham (?)”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association mentioned the Cameo in a news release, saying, “Even former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agrees — Greg Gianforte should go back to New Jersey.”
Cooney’s campaign communications director Ronja Abel, meanwhile, confirmed that Elkins, the campaign manager, purchased the cameo, and offered a statement: “🤷🏼♀️”
Cooney is a well-liked Democrat who has spent decades in Montana politics. Gianforte is a Trump-aligned Republican who made millions in the tech industry but is probably best known for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll found Gianforte and Cooney were about even, within the poll’s margin of error.
Christie isn’t the first to be duped on Cameo. Carole Baskin of “Tiger King” fame, for example, was hired to wish a happy birthday to Rolf Harris and to mention Jimmy Savile. Unbeknown to her, they are both notorious serial sexual predators.