FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Long Branch, NJ — U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today sent the following letter to Acting Attorney General Mark Filip asking whether First Assistant United States Attorney Michele A. Brown had permission to attend a recent political gathering with New Jersey Republican Party leaders and staffers about former U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie’s campaign for governor. The New Jersey congressman also asked the Justice Department whether such activity violates any current laws or guidelines regarding the conduct of employees in Brown’s position.
United States Department of Justice
Acting Attorney General Mark Filip
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-001
February 2, 2009
Dear Acting Attorney General Filip:
I am once again writing your office regarding what I believe to be a troubling pattern of misconduct involving some members of the United States Attorney’s Office in New Jersey. As you should be aware, I have raised concerns regarding the increased use of deferred prosecution agreements by the Department, the apparent rewarding of political allies and supporters with lucrative federal monitoring agreements and the increased politicization of the office of United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey by the former United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie.
It would seem that many of my past concerns have been borne out by the facts as shortly after Mr. Christie left office as U.S. Attorney he launched a campaign for Governor of New Jersey. It is troubling however, that the politicization of the office has seemed to continue despite Mr. Christie’s absence. Recently, I learned that one of his top deputies at the office and the current First Assistant United States Attorney, Michele A. Brown, was present at what appears to have been a political gathering of Republican Party county chairman, state legislators and campaign staffers actively engaged in and advising Mr. Christie’s campaign for governor. As I understand it, this meeting was an organized function of Mr. Christie’s political campaign, and not simply a social gathering. It included, among other things, speeches from prominent Republican fundraisers about campaign fundraising strategy, as well as remarks from key personnel of Mr. Christie’s political campaign and Mr. Christie himself about campaign strategy for his candidacy for governor.
I am sure you agree that it is crucial that citizens have the utmost confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of all employees of the Department of Justice and particularly those who serve in senior positions at the various United States Attorneys’ Offices. Given the many examples of misconduct and excess over the last few years at the Justice Department, it is clear that such confidence has been shaken and considerable work needs to be done to ensure that we once again have faith that our laws are faithfully executed and justice is administered fairly and without regard to political consideration.
I would like to know whether Ms. Brown’s attendance at this obviously political strategy meeting was approved of in advance by the Acting United States Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. and whether her attendance violated any current laws or guidelines regarding the conduct of employees in Ms. Brown’s position. Furthermore, given the excessive and inappropriate political activity engaged in under the previous U.S. Attorney, do the applicable guidelines need to be revised and/or strengthened to ensure that senior members of the U.S. Attorney’s staff do not simply become a campaign infrastructure in waiting?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress