New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is weighing whether to reappoint the state’s only Hispanic prosecutor — and a former colleague from his days as U.S. Attorney — to a county prosecutor post, The Asbury Park Press reported Tuesday.
During an editorial board meeting with the newspaper Tuesday, Christie said he will make his decision by July on whether to keep Monmouth County prosecutor Luis A. Valentin, a Democrat who was appointed by former acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (D) in 2005. The position is a five-year term.
Prior to his appointment as county prosecutor, Valentin served as chief of the Violent Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Christie, who was then the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.
During the meeting, Christie told the editorial board that he spoke with Monmouth County’s three Republican state senators — Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr., Jennifer Beck and Sean T. Kean — earlier this week about the position and asked for recommendations for a replacement. He added that his administration also will be vetting Valentin.
“The attorney general will look at it, look at the performance of the current prosecutor, and we’ll start that process, and I’ll be starting that process in five other counties for nominations to be made in the June-July period,” Christie said.
If Christie chooses to reappoint Valentin, it would not be out of character; Christie has already tapped nearly a dozen former prosecutors from his U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration.
At the time of Valentin’s appointment in 2005, Christie praised the prosecutor as “a man of boundless energy,” according to the Atlanticville, a local newspaper. “When confronted with the choice between what is right and what is easy, he will choose what is right,” Christie said, noting that he had worked with Valentin for seven years.
Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo — one of 44 individuals arrested in July 2009 on charges of public corruption and money laundering — has criticized Christie for hiring his former colleagues. During a press conference last week, Manzo alleged the public corruption case was designed to help Christie win the 2009 gubernatorial election. According to Manzo, prosecutors in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office contributed to Christie’s campaign, received promises of jobs in a Christie administration and provided him with information about developments in the public corruption probe after Christie resigned the U.S. Attorney post in December 2008 in order to run for governor.
Valentin did not work in the office during the time Manzo has alleged that federal prosecutors provided Christie with information on the investigation.