Posts Tagged ‘Michele Brown’
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.
Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

A prominent New Jersey Democrat is urging the Justice Department to investigate whether Chris Christie used the U.S. Attorney’s office to conduct his campaign for governor.

Frank Lautenberg (Gov)

Frank Lautenberg (Gov)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg said it was “shocking” that former New Jersey Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown appeared to use her position to improperly help Christie’s campaign for governor, The Associated Press reported today.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the former Assistant U.S. Attorney was involved with processing a long-delayed Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Gov. Jon Corzine (D) campaign. The request included Brown’s travel records, which showed that Christie allowed Brown to stay at luxury hotels while on official travel.

Brown also argued for the arrests of public officials in a corruption sweep called Operation Bid Rig to occur before U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman took office, according to The Times. This was done “presumably so that Mr. Christie would be given credit for the roundup,” the newspaper said.

“It was particularly distressing that this raw political agenda came into an office with a historic reputation for fair and unbiased dispensation of justice, and Ms. Brown went so far as to try to bring political campaign objectives into the planning of law enforcement actions,” Lautenberg said in a statement.

Christie and Brown have denied the allegations.

Brown resigned in August shortly after Christie revealed that he gave a $46,000 loan to her.

Stephanie Woodrow contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The New York Times reports that the prosecutor to whom Chris Christie lent $46,000 appears to have “used her position in two significant and possibly improper ways to try to aid Mr. Christie in his run for governor.”

Michele Brown (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter)

Michele Brown (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter)

The story published on the NYT Web site Monday evening significantly advances the Michele Brown story. It says the former Assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey resigned in August after interim U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra came under pressure from unnamed Justice Department officials to remove Brown from collecting records for a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gov. Jon Corzine (D) campaign.

The Corzine FOIA sought documents related to Christie’s official travel and lodging during his tenure as U.S. Attorney, before he resigned to mount a Republican campaign for governor. But some of those records also involved Brown, and they were not being forwarded in a timely manner - prompting the Corzine campaign to file a complaint about the matter with the Justice Department.

Says the Times:

In March, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign requested public records about Mr. Christie’s tenure as prosecutor, Ms. Brown interceded to oversee the responses to the inquiries, taking over for the staff member who normally oversaw Freedom of Information Act requests, according to federal law enforcement officials in Newark and Washington. The requested information included records about Mr. Christie’s travel and expenses, along with Ms. Brown’s travel records.

It was later revealed the Christie and Brown had rented rooms in the same luxury hotels while on official travel.

The Associated Press last week reported:

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm

The NYT piece cites  ”federal law enforcement sources in Newark and Washington” as its sources.

It also illuminates some of the political wrangling around Marra’s successor, Obama nominee Paul Fishman, whose nomination was stalled for months by Republican senators placing anonymous holds on him.

As we guessed here in this earlier report, the delays apparently had to do with whether Christie or Fishman would get to take credit for a massive roundup in July of public officials in a corruption sweep called Operation Bid Rig. If Fishman had been promptly confirmed, he would have likely emerged a the public face of the investigation.

The NYT reports:

In mid-June, when F.B.I. agents and prosecutors gathered to set a date for the arrests of more than 40 targets of a corruption and money-laundering probe, Ms. Brown alone argued for the arrests to be made before July 1. She later told colleagues that she wanted to ensure that the arrests occurred before Mr. Christie’s permanent successor took office, according to three federal law enforcement officials briefed on the conversation, presumably so that Mr. Christie would be given credit for the roundup.

Brown declined to be interviewed by the New York Time but emailed the newspaper to call the charges “outrageous and inaccurate.”. A Christie spokesman said  Brown had not helped his campaign in any way while in the U.S. Attorney office. Read our previous report about Marra’s frustrations, including revelations of an Office of Professional Responsibility probe into whether he aided Christie’s candidacy with remarks a news conference announcing the corruption sweep.

Christie said said he loaned Brown $46,000 to pay her mortgate in September 2007 after her husband, Michael Allen, lost his job.

News of Mr. Christie’s loan to Ms. Brown broke in August, dealing a blow to his candidacy, and he apologized for failing to report it on his tax returns and ethics filings.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie stayed in luxury hotels and exceeded the government allowance on 14 of 16 trips he took as the state’s U.S. Attorney in 2008, The Associated Press reports.

The spending records were obtained by the campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine (D) under the Freedom of Information Act. The Corzine campaign in August had made an issue of acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown’s assignment to help fulfill the FOIA request. Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra said at the time that Brown was involved only insofar as some of the requested documents concerned her own travel.

Brown resigned in August after it was revealed that Christie had made an unreported $46,000 loan to her.

We don’t know anything first-hand about this story, just passing along what The AP says. To wit:

On trips in 2007 and 2008, his top deputy, Michele Brown, also exceeded the guidelines after Christie approved her requests for rooms in the same five-star hotels where he was booked.

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm.

And:

Records turned over so far show Christie exceeded the government lodging allowance on 23 of 30 business trips taken between 2004 and 2008. In some cases, his travel vouchers were approved first by Brown, then certified by a third person. Christie, who was Brown’s supervisor, signed off on her travel, either in advance or when she submitted vouchers, the records show. The vouchers were all certified by a third party

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Paul Fishman (Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman)

Paul Fishman (Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman)

Acting New Jersey U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, who became entangled in the bitter New Jersey gubernatorial race, will return to his old job as First Assistant U.S. Attorney after Paul Fishman is sworn in tomorrow, PolitickerNJ reported.

Fishman’s appointment was held up for several months by Republicans, who never articulated their reasons for it. But we speculated it had something to do with the nasty race between former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) and Gov. Jon Corzine (D) for governor, which will finally end on Nov. 3 when voters go to the polls. The Senate confirmed Fishman as New Jersey U.S. Attorney on Oct. 7.

Marra came under Justice Department ethics investigation for remarks he made at a news conference about a major public corruption probe. The Corzine camp complained the remarks appeared designed to boost Marra’s former boss, Christie.

Marra took over the office in December, after Christie resigned to run for governor.

Marra at the July 23 Operation Bid Rig news conference that sparked an ethics inquiry into his remarks. (Getty Images)

Marra at the July 23 Operation Bid Rig news conference that sparked an ethics inquiry into his remarks. (Getty Images)

For the past two months, Marc Larkins has been pulling double duty as the office’s Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and Acting First Assistant. Larkins became Acting First Assistant after Michele Brown resigned in August. A loan Christie had made to her but not reported on his ethics and tax forms had become a campaign issue. Under Fishman, Larkins will continue his work as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, PolitickerNJ reported.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (Gov)

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) released a new ad Tuesday criticizing challenger Chris Christie (R) for using his power as a U.S. Attorney to avoid penalties for driving, income tax and ethics violations.

While he was New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney, Christie got lost while driving in 2002 and turned the wrong way down a one-way street and hit a motorcyclist, sending him to the hospital. Christie was not ticketed for the incident. He was then pulled over three years later for speeding and driving an unregistered vehicle without proof of insurance. Although Christie was ticketed, he said he was allowed to drive the vehicle home because his four kids were with him.

Christie also has come under fire for a $46,000 loan he made to then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown while he was her boss. Christie failed to disclose the loan on ethics forms and income tax returns.

The new Corzine ad takes aim at Christie for using his authority to “get away” with breaking laws.

Here’s the ad:

“If you drove the wrong way down a one-way street, causing an accident and putting the victim in a trauma center … would you get away without a ticket? Chris Christie did. If you were caught speeding in an unregistered car — would you get away without points? Chris Christie did. In both cases, Christie threw his weight around as US Attorney and got off easy. If you didn’t pay your taxes, ignored ethics laws- would you get away with it? Chris Christie. One set of rules for himself. Another for everyone else.”

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Well, that was fast.

The assistant U.S. attorney who borrowed $46,000 from gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie when he was her boss in the prosecutor’s office — and then resigned after the loan surfaced as a campaign issue — has landed a gig at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, The Star-Ledger reports.

The former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is under fire as he runs for governor.

The former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is under fire as he runs for governor.

Michele Brown stepped down as acting first assistant U.S. attorney for New Jersey late last month, saying she didn’t want to be a distraction for the office. Christie made the loan when he was the state’s U.S. attorney — Brown was one of his top aides at the time — but omitted it from his income tax returns and mandatory financial disclosure reports.

Brown, who spent 18 years as a federal prosecutor, is slated to start at the Morristown-based McElroy on Sept. 14.

Walter Timpone (McElroy)

Walter Timpone (McElroy)

“We are very fortunate,” Walter Timpone, a partner at McElroy and a former federal prosecutor, told The Star-Ledger. “She is a consummate professional, talented and smart. We look forward to growing our health care and white-collar practice through the breadth of her experience.”

Timpone and Ralph Marra, New Jersey’s acting U.S. attorney, are close friends, the newspaper notes, and we’ve discovered more sinews between the firm and the increasingly acid New Jersey gubernatorial race.

Jersey City has hired Timpone to perform a legal audit of city’s development process in the wake of  Operation Bid Rig. The Justice Department’s internal ethics watchdog is investigating  Marra over remarks he made at a July 23 news conference announcing arrests of 44 people — including two mayors close to Christie’s Democratic rival, Gov. Jon Corzine — in the public corruption investigation. Marra said the “few people that want to change” New Jersey corruption “seem to get shouted down.” Democrats charged that the remarks were intended to boost Christie, who is running against Corzine on an anti-corruption platform.

Marra at the July 23 Operation Bid Rig news conference that sparked an ethics inquiry into his remarks. (Getty Images)

Ralph Marra (Getty Images)

Timpone and his firm also represented one of four hip-and-knee replacement companies, Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc., that entered into deferred prosecution agreements with the New Jersey office while Christie was U.S. attorney.

The DPAs — and one in particular — have dogged Christie during his campaign. He awarded the firm of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, his old boss, a contract worth up to $52 million to monitor another of the companies, Zimmer Inc. (Debra Yang, the former U.S. attorney for California’s Central District, won the monitoring contract for Depuy.)

Controversy over the arrangement prompted the Justice Department to adopt new rules for hiring monitors.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Gov. Jon Corzine

Gov. Jon Corzine

New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie is weathering recent controversies stemming from his tenure as the state’s U.S. Attorney, a new poll finds. The Republican challenger leads New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) by 10 points among likely voters, or 47-37 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll released today. The survey also found 7 percent of likely voters support independent candidate Christopher Daggett. A Quinnipiac poll taken three weeks ago found Christie with a narrower lead over Corzine, 46 to 40 percent. Daggett garnered 7 percent.

The new poll also found 77 percent of likely voters have seen ads produced by Corzine attacking Christie for contracts he awarded when he was New Jersey U.S. Attorney. Of those people, 56 percent said the ads are an unfair attack, compared with 36 percent who said the contacts are a legitimate campaign issue.

Chris Christie (Gov)

Chris Christie (Gov)

In addition, 49 percent of likely voters who have heard the news about an unreported loan Christie made to a then-subordinate in the U.S. Attorney office, Michele Brown, believe the Corzine camp’s criticisms of it are unfair. Forty-three percent said the attacks are fair. The poll also found 96 percent of likely voters believe government corruption is a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem. Voters associated Democrats with corruption, with 50 percent of likely voters saying Democrats are more likely to be corrupt compared with 16 percent who cited Republicans. Christie has campaigned on a platform of ethics reform.

The poll of 1,612 New Jersey likely voters was conducted Aug. 25 to 30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.