Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey governor’s race’
Friday, March 12th, 2010

Lou Manzo (gov)

A former New Jersey lawmaker on Monday will release information about alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of a public corruption case, The Hudson Reporter of New Jersey reported Friday.

In July 2009, 44 individuals –  including 29 New Jersey elected or public officials — were arrested on charges of of public corruption and money laundering. The Associated Press reported last year that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had opened an internal investigation into comments made by then acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra at a news conference announcing the sting case.

Former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo, who was among those arrested, said that on Monday he will hold a press conference at which he will present “evidence documenting issues of prosecution misconduct in the Bid Rig III investigation and prosecution,” according to a news release from Manzo.

Last week, Manzo told the newspaper that his evidence relates to campaign donations to then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie from attorneys working on the sting. Christie was waging what turned out to be a successful campaign for governor. According to the newspaper, the case ultimately benefited Christie’s campaign.

This post has been updated since it was first posted.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Marc Larkins speaks after Gov. Chris Christie announces his nomination. (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Marc Larkins to be the executive director of the New Jersey School Development Authority Board, according to a news release.

Larkins is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who has held a number of positions in the office since he joined in 2003. He has served as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Acting Executive U.S. Attorney and council. In addition, he has been the chief of the government fraud unit.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Larkins was a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Division from 1999 to March 2003. Simultaneously, from February 2000 to March 2002, Larkins was Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Christie, who was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey from 2002-2008, had already named eight of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office.
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel.
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel.
  • Charles McKenna to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
  • Michele Brown to be appointments counsel.
  • Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie (gov)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has named Lee Solomon to be the president of the board of public utilities, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports.

Solomon, who currently is a state Superior Court judge in Camden County, was a Deputy U.S. Attorney under Christie, running the prosecutor’s offices in Camden and Trenton. He previously was a Camden County Freeholder, a state assemblyman, 1992 GOP congressional candidate and Camden County prosecutor. Christie was the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002-2008.

During the news conference at which Christie announced Solomon’s new post, the governor praised Solomon’s judgment and people skills, adding that he had sought proven managers for his cabinet because “a lot of state government has been dysfunctional,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Christie has already named seven of his former colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office.
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office.
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office.
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel.
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel.
  • Charles McKenna to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
  • Michele Brown to be appointments counsel.
Friday, January 15th, 2010

Michele Brown (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie on Friday said he will name former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown to be appointments counsel in his administration, The Associated Press reported. Brown, who was one of Christie’s assistants when he ran the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office, resigned from her job as acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney in August amid several campaign-related controversies.

When he was U.S. Attorney, Christie took out a second mortgage on his home to loan Brown $46,000, but failed the report the information on his financial disclosures and tax returns. Brown also came under fire by the campaign of Christie’s opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine (D), for working to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request that concerned her and Christie’s travel records.

The FOIA records revealed that Christie exceeded his government lodging allowance when traveling as U.S. Attorney, often staying in luxury hotels, and that he approved Brown’s requests to stay in some of the same five-star hotels as he.

In addition, the New York Times reported that Brown assisted the Christie campaign by delaying the U.S. Attorney office’s response to the Corzine campaign’s FOIA requests. As a result, then-interim U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra came under pressure from unnamed Justice Department officials to remove Brown from collecting records for the campaign’s request, the Times reported.

Brown resigned shortly thereafter to take a job at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.

Christie has already named six of his former colleagues from his U.S. Attorney’s office to serve in his administration. They are:

  • Robert Hanna to be the director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s office,
  • Stephen Taylor to be the director of Criminal Justice in the AG’s office,
  • Deborah Gramiccioni to be director of the Authorities Unit in the AG’s office,
  • Jeffrey S. Chiesa to be Christie’s chief counsel,
  • Kevin M. O’Dowd to be deputy chief counsel and
  • Charles McKenna, to be head of the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (Gov)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) has tapped two of his former subordinates from the U.S. Attorney’s office for his administration, a New Jersey newspaper reports. Christie on Thursday announced four senior staff members including Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who will be Christie’s chief counsel, and Kevin M. O’Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa (Wolff & Samson)

Jeffrey S. Chiesa (Wolff & Samson)

Chiesa worked in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office from 2002 until earlier this year, when he left to join Wolff & Samson in New York. While in the office, headed by Christie, Chiesa served in multiple roles including the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and chief of the public protection unit. O’Dowd is currently working as a prosecutor in the office, according to The Courier-Post newspaper of South New Jersey.

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Also, although Christie has not made an official announcement, another former U.S. Attorney’s Office colleague, Ralph Marra, reportedly is his pick for attorney general. The New Jersey attorney general is an appointed position, not elected. Christie’s controversial ally Marra recently returned to his First Assistant U.S. Attorney position after serving as acting U.S. Attorney, a post he assumed in December 2008 when Christie resigned to run for governor.

Also due to join the Christie administration when he is sworn in next January will be former state Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger as chief of staff and Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien as deputy chief of staff, the newspaper reports.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (gov)

New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie is traveling to Pennsylvania tomorrow to campaign for his former U.S. Attorney colleague Pat Meehan, a Republican candidate for a House seat from the Philadelphia suburbs. Both Christie and Meehan served as U.S. Attorneys during the Bush administration – Christie in New Jersey and Meehan in Philly.

Christie, who will be sworn in as governor on Jan. 19, will attend two events Wednesday, one in the early evening at the Union League of Philadelphia and a second event at the Concordville Inn in Concordville, Pa. In an email to supporters, Meehan referred to Christie as his “good friend” who “is coming to town to show his support for my candidacy.”

Meehan is running for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for Senate next year. The former prosecutor had flirted with running for Pennsylvania governor but abandoned those plans when Sestak announced his run for Senate.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Chris Christie plans to name his controversial ally from the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey,  Ralph Marra, to be the state’s next Attorney General,  The Husdon Reporter reports. Marra recently returned to his First Assistant U.S. Attorney position after serving as acting U.S. Attorney, a post he assumed in December when Christie resigned to run for governor. Christie, a Republican, won last night.

During the campaign, Marra’s office was criticized by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign for a slow response to its Freedom of Information Act requests, which Democrats said was a political move.

In addition, the Justice Department has launched an ethics investigation involving Marra for remarks he made at a news conference about a major public corruption probe. The DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility started an internal affairs probe into the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office’s handling of a corruption investigation that netted 44 individuals –  including 29 elected or public officials — in July.

Christie had used the arrests, in a case named Operation Bid Rid, to argue he would be better at preventing public corruption than Corzine. Polling showed the issue resonated with independent voters, who supported Christie in Tuesday’s election.

The New Jersey attorney general is an appointed position, not elected.

The Christie campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Friday, October 30th, 2009
Gov. Jon Corzine

Gov. Jon Corzine

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) during a Thursday interview with The New York Times said he regrets having supported Chris Christie’s nomination for U.S. Attorney, saying he believed the former prosecutor politicized the position and used it as a launching pad for his political career. “New information, new conclusion,” Corzine told the NYT.

In a separate interview with the newspaper on Thursday, Christie was asked to name three things Corzine had done right. The governor “struggled for several moments” with the answer, The Times reports. “Let me think. Um … I would probably say I think over all his prosecutorial appointments have been good.”

Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

Neither candidate apologized for the personal attacks on their opponent during the campaign, The Times reports. Polls have the two candidates virtually tied for the Nov. 3 election.

In related news, Christie during a Thursday interview on the Don Imus’s radio show said Corzine should “man up and say I’m fat.” Corzine produced an ad claiming Christie “threw his weight around” as a prosecutor. When asked by Imus how much he weighs, Christie replied, “550 pounds,” a response which got a lot of laughs from the Imus team. He added, “I’m going to be a big fat winner” on Election Day.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

In 2002, Chris Christie drove the wrong way down a one-way street and hit a motorcycle, sending the rider to the hospital. The state’s U.S. Attorney at the time, Christie was not ticketed for the incident.

Now, Christie is the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, and his Democratic opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine, released an ad saying: “Christie threw his weight around as US Attorney and got off easy” in that and other traffic incidents.

During an interview today on Fox and Friends, Christie addressed Corzine’s allegations that he abused his authority as a U.S. Attorney, TPMDC reported. ”I was not driving the wrong way down a one way street and the Governor knows it,” Christie said. “I didn’t hit someone, they hit me.”

What’s odd about Christie’s comments — although they are “technically accurate,” according to TPMDC –  is that they are in conflict with Christie’s own story in the police report filed about the 2002 accident. In the report, Christie and the motorcyclist gave matching stories: Christie turned in front of the motorcyclist, quickly realized his mistake, but the motorcycle fell and slid onto his car, TMPDC reported.

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Days before he resigned as New Jersey U.S. Attorney last year to run for governor,  Republican Chris Christie hired the inexperienced son of a friend and mentor as a prosecutor. At the time, Democrats criticized the hiring as political patronage.

Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

Chris Christie (Christie for Governor)

Now, the Star-Ledger newspaper is reporting that Samuel Stern was hired over the objections of “nearly every assistant U.S. attorney who interviewed him.” Also, Christie took the “unusual step of changing the interview process” after prosecutors with whom Stern had interviewed declined to recommend him for the job, the newspaper said.

The hiring of Stern was politically controversial because he is the son of Herbert Stern, a former federal judge who supported Christie for appointment as U.S. Attorney in 2002 over objections about Christie lack of law enforcement experience.

Christie in 2005 awarded Stern’s law firm a $3 million court-monitoring contract. When Christie quit to run for governor, people associated with Stern’s law firm donated $23,800 to Christie’s campaign. Stern and his wife each contributed the maximum allowed, $3,400, the Star-Ledger said.

Christie is now in a close race against Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

Here’s the Star-Ledger’s description of Samuel Stern’s interview process:

Typically, candidates are subject to several rounds of interviews, meeting first with three rank-and-file prosecutors. If that goes well, they meet with three division supervisors. The final interview is typically with the U.S. attorney or a top deputy.

In Stern’s case, he performed poorly in his first round, and none of the rank-and-file assistants who interviewed him recommended that he be hired, the officials said. He was given the unusual opportunity for a second chance with three different rank-and-file assistants, but again received negative reviews, the officials said.

Then on Friday, Nov. 14 — after Stern had met with just two supervisors — Christie offered him the job, the officials said. The following Monday, Christie announced his own resignation.