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(NECN: Alison King) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker is defending his $10,000 donation in 2011 to the state party committee of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
"Nothing I have done violates the pay to play rules. I made a donation to Chris Christie cause he worked hard on my campaign and that's that," Baker said.
Baker has been accused of possibly violating strict federal and New Jersey state "pay to play" regulations because seven months after he made the donation, a Christie-controlled pension fund gave $25 million to General Catalyst, an investment firm that has listed Baker as a partner - though Baker says that designation was an error.
Baker said, "I'm an XIR at General Catalyst. I'm a domain expert. My work with them is to seek out and find interesting health care companies. Small companies. Mostly to invest in. And that's what I focus on and that's what I'm expected to do."
But the story gets thornier for Baker amidst reports that some of the $25 million from the New Jersey pension fund was directed toward a health insurance company where Baker is an on-the-board "executive in residence."
"I have no idea, nor should I have any idea what fund General Catalyst chooses to use when it makes a decision, when IT makes a decision to invest in a particular company," Baker said.
Baker says the truth that there was no wrong doing on his part will be clear in the coming months as no action is taken against him. Either way, the political repercussions will follow.
The Massachusetts Democratic party has already released a web video featuring headlines of the story and political analysts say TV ads featuring photos of Baker and a scandal ridden Chris Christie are probably not far behind.
Tufts professor Jeffrey Berry says, while not fatal, the story could be damaging, adding, "And the reason it's damaging is that he wants to sell his character. He wants to convince Massachusetts voters that he's a no-nonsense, non-ideological, problem solving businessman. What the scandal does is make him look devious."
Baker also tells NECN that he does not regret making the $10,000 donation to Christie, because Christie had been very helpful to him in his 2010 gubernatorial bid.
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