The New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club Show set for May 4 has been cancelled.
The group cited the recent Gridiron Dinner in Washington as a superspreader event and sluggish ticket sales.
“We have been looking forward to holding our first show since 2019, after two years off due to the pandemic. Ticket sales had been low, though we were hoping that interest would pick up as the show date got close,” the club said in an email on Saturday. “However, the recent data and Gridiron experience showed, unfortunately, that was not going to happen.”
The group said that $150-per-person ticket price will be refunded.
This is the second Covid-related cancellation of a New Jersey pastime: the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce called off their annual “Walk to Washington” train trip again late last year and hopes to bring it back in 2023.
The dinner attracted some controversy in 2105 when Bruno Tedeschi, a public relations executive and former Star-Ledger/Bergen Record reporter, recorded the dinner and made news by reporting then-Gov. Chris Christie’s “profanity laden speech.”
Tedeschi disputed a belief that the dinner was off-the-record. That caused Star-Ledger editorial page editor Tom Moran to attack, a move that essentially validated Tedeschi’s argument.
According to Mark Bonamo, a veteran New Jersey journalist, two daily newspaper editors complained in 1993 that the dinner was funded by lobbyist sponsors and noted the hypocrisy of the off-the-record tradition.
“Over the years, the club’s dinner has become less a lighthearted gathering of journalists than just another stop on the special interests’ dinner circuit,” wrote Bergen Record editor Glenn Ritt and Home News Tribune editor Jim Flachsenhaar. “How can we as journalists criticize lobbyists who finance the activities of elected officials when we accept virtually the same kind of support? How can we criticize politicians for taking such gifts, but then pay for their tickets to the event?”
Sponsors of the cancelled 2022 event included lobbying firm Mike WorldWide (formerly known as MWW), Environment NJ, Kessler PR Group, and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin.