Aides Hope New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine Can Work from Hospital; E-mails Probed as Crash Cause

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Aides to critically injured Gov. Jon S. Corzine said Monday they hope he will be able to run the government from his hospital bed when his condition improves.

Corzine was in critical but stable condition Monday, and aides did not know when he might be able to resume his duties. State Senate President Richard J. Codey is the acting governor.

Spokesman Anthony Coley said Corzine — still unable to govern 11 days after a car crash — may rely on technology to help him run the state from the hospital.

"We're looking into video-conferencing capability," Coley said.

Since a breathing tube was removed Friday, Corzine has been able to enjoy a few of life's simpler pleasures: watching hockey on television and eating mashed potatoes.

Corzine has been at Cooper University Hospital since the April 12 car crash on the Garden State Parkway. He was in the front passenger seat, his seat belt unbuckled, when the state SUV driven by a state trooper at about 90 mph was clipped by a pickup that was swerving to avoid a third vehicle.

Corzine broke his left thigh bone, 11 ribs, a collarbone and his breastbone and had some other, more minor injuries.

He was sedated for more than a week, breathing with the help of a ventilator that prevented him from speaking, and being fed through a tube.

Investigators are trying to find out if the governor's driver, State Trooper Robert Rasinski, had seen angry e-mail messages — possibly on a BlackBerry, cell phone or other device — from the husband of a woman he was allegedly having an affair with, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported Sunday.

Police were looking into whether the e-mail, sent just before the wreck, could have affected Rasinski's driving, the paper said.

State police officials did not return a call seeking additional comment Monday.

A police officer from Berkeley Heights, Detective Sgt. Michael Mathis, posted messages online at a Star-Ledger Web news forum saying he sent Rasinski an e-mail with a photo of himself and his family just minutes before the crash to confront him about the affair, the newspaper reported.

"I hope it didn't cause the crash, but no man in his right mind could have been thinking clearly with the affair exposed," Mathis wrote in the forum.

Mathis, 40, confirmed to the newspaper that he posted the comments, using a screen name, in an online forum for reader comments on Statehouse news. The newspaper also reported two posts in Mathis' own name the day after the crash.

When contacted Monday by The Associated Press, Mathis, a 22-year police force veteran, responded by e-mail that he had no additional comment.

The president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, David Jones, has said Rasinski didn't have a BlackBerry at the time of the crash.

"There wasn't any distraction," Jones told the newspaper. "They (the investigators) asked all of these questions in a taped interview. That's part of the standard protocols."