Reality star Nicole Polizzi (aka “Snooki”) isn’t someone you’d expect to be involved with serious governmental legislation — but, as it turns out, she is at the center of a new bill that will be voted on today by New Jersey’s Democrat-led Assembly. To be clear, she didn’t write the bill or lobby for the bill, but she inspired the bill — Republican Assemblyman John DiMaio crafted the potential legislation. In a nutshell, the bill states that no more than $10,000 of state (i.e., taxpayer) money can be used to pay speakers at New Jersey’s public universities. So how is Snooki part of this?
DiMaio cites a 2011 appearance by the reality TV star at Rutgers University as particularly problematic on the belief that it is “ludicrous and wasteful” to allocate state funds to compensate people who speak at public institutions of higher learning. On March 31, 2011 — when she was at the height of her fame — Polizzi was invited to speak by a student group and paid $32,000 via student fees for the appearance, according to the school, which emphasizes that she was not paid with state funds. “Student organizations routinely invite speakers to campus and compensate those speakers using generated revenues and student fees, not state funding. Rutgers does not use state funds to pay speakers for University Commencement. Those speakers are offered an honorarium funded by revenues generated by our beverage contract with Coca-Cola,” according to a statement from Rutgers. (This year’s commencement speaker, Steven Van Zandt, is being offered $35,000.) An article written around the time the dustup happened showed the school defended the group’s right to pay for whoever they wanted to, as well as noting that the student events group that paid Polizzi “receives some of the mandatory fees tacked onto tuition.”
It’s easy to see how the fact that Snooki got $32k from any appearance at an institute of higher learning grated. This is a woman who was once arrested for disorderly conduct after face-planting while intoxicated on the boardwalk and who used to clean what she dubbed the “smush room” in her Jersey Shore share house wearing a hazmat suit.
This isn’t the first time Snooki has gotten caught up in politics though. In 2010 the tanning aficionado said she was using spray tanner because President Obama’s tax on tanning salons was making them too expensive. Then former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain tweeted her in agreement: “@Sn00ki u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama’s tax/spend policy is quite The Situation. but I do rec wearing sunscreen!”
@Sn00ki u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama's tax/spend policy is quite The Situation. but I do rec wearing sunscreen!
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 9, 2010
Snooki’s hit reality show went off the air in 2012, and since then she has somewhat rebranded herself (or tried to, at least) as a mom, wife, and entrepreneur. She still hangs with her former castmate and bestie Jennifer Farley (who still mostly goes by JWoww), though now they drop wisdom about things like stretch marks rather than smushing.
For her part, the now 29-year-old star doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the legislation. She’s been too busy celebrating her husband’s 30th birthday, promoting her clothing line with sexy selfies, and sharing sponsored posts from Flat Tummy Tea, which, to be clear, she’s paid to post.
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