New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) today fired the state’s Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, after the state lost a $400 million Race To The Top grant due to an error made in the application process. Now, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that Schundler specifically asked to be fired, instead of voluntarily resigning, so that he would be able to receive unemployment benefits:
Ousted state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler today said he asked Gov. Chris Christie to be fired from the work he considered his “life’s dream,” rather than resign, so he could receive unemployment benefits to pay his bills. “I asked if they would mind writing a termination letter, instead of a resignation letter, because I do have a mortgage to pay, and I do have a daughter who’s just started college,” he said in an interview this morning. “And I, frankly, will need the unemployment insurance benefits until I find another job. … And they said fine. They said sure.” [...]
Schundler’s financial disclosure form, released Thursday by the State Ethics Commission, show he and his wife had less than $5,000 in the bank.
Schundler’s case is particularly important because the Republican Party and conservative movement he belongs to have recently made the unemployed a frequent political punching bag. For months the party has fought every vote to extend unemployment benefits, despite double-digit unemployment rates across the country.
And to add insult to injury, major Republicans have derided the character of the recipients of unemployment benefits. NY GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Carl Paladino has suggested sending people receiving unemployment benefits to prison dorms, Nixon administration official and conservative pundit Ben Stein has complained that the unemployed are “unpleasant people…who do not know how to do a day’s work,” Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) suggested the jobless are “sitting back and waiting” instead of looking for work, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has claimed “welfare” is making the persistently unemployed lazy.