New Jerseyans speak about Jon Corzine’s leadership and the current signs of growth in the Garden State’s economy.
Daily Archives: August 22, 2009
It’s Saturday once again and it’s time for a carton before leaving for the Cub Scout’s camp out.
I have the bug spray, fishing poles, rain poncho and the picnic basket is packed. All I need now is a little Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith to start my day off.
President Obama debunks the myths around health reform, and discusses the public option proposal in which many of them are rooted. But he focuses his address on the stark moral and historical turning point at which we find ourselves.
By ALFRED DOBLIN -RECORD EDITORIAL COLUMNIST
TRAVEL BACK to Sunday school with me. Somewhere, back in the Sixties, a catechetical instructor explained to me the difference between a sin of commission and a sin of omission.
As I recall, the difference may affect whether you go to hell. Applied to early 21st century New Jersey politics, it may affect who goes to Trenton in January, a place many believe is hell on Earth.
This week, the public learned that Chris Christie, Republican gubernatorial candidate and all-around protector of ethics, failed to disclose a loan made to personal friend and former subordinate in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michele Brown. The $46,000 loan was not reported on Christie’s federal and state disclosure forms or his tax returns.
Christie has been apologizing all week. He said he and his wife were helping a friend in need. He just forgot to disclose the loan or list the interest on the loan in his tax returns. It was a sin of omission.
He said he made a mistake. It’s a big mistake for a former U.S. attorney to make.
I can accept that people with large incomes and/or cash reserves may think little of lending out $46,000. And Christie Savings and Loan is small potatoes compared to the House of Corzine. Governor Corzine lent former romantic interest Carla Katz nearly $500,000. He eventually forgave that loan.
But there are some differences between the two transactions: Corzine reported the gift and Katz was his girlfriend, not his employee.
I cannot think of any managers believing it is good policy to lend money to persons, friend or not, who work for them. Add to that where both Christie and Brown worked: the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And then do some more math and add on the probability that the boss was going to run for governor while the subordinate would rise in authority as a federal prosecutor.
Sin of omission or sin of commission?
Christie has been thinking about running for governor for some time. He had to know that the loan would be problematic, at best. That would be a sin of commission – knowing you were doing something wrong. If he didn’t intend to do wrong, it’s a sin of omission. Either way, according to my Sunday school teacher, there are consequences for the action taken.
Realistically, this is not the stuff that most New Jerseyans really care about. Unless Christie and Corzine want to start making personal loans to all New Jerseyans in financial straits, most folks who don’t work in politics or live on a diet of politics don’t give a hoot.
But the gubernatorial campaigns have not been centered on the economy, but rather on ethics and choices. Christie says he’s not Corzine and that he will fight corruption tooth and nail. Corzine is running a campaign that says he’s not Karl Rove and Christie really is.
Democrats have long said Christie used his position as a U.S. attorney as a stepping stone for a gubernatorial run. And that politics played too much a part in the decisions of who was targeted for investigation.
Now there is a question of whether Christie is still receiving information on ongoing investigations while a candidate. He can deny it. But it is hard to overlook the fact that one of the top officials in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey owes him money. It is a self-inflicted political wound.
It also is hard to overlook the fact that he gave a personal loan to someone who reported up to him while U.S. attorney. This is the same murky water Democrats swim in. Money, friendship and employment are the absinthe, sugar and water of Jersey political life. It’s cloudy. It’s potent. And it leads to self-delusion.
How could Christie not realize that giving a loan to Brown was more than a financial liability; it was a huge political mistake? It also was ethically wrong. He was her boss.
How could Christie not realize the loan had to be reported? His entire brilliant career as U.S. attorney was constructed on the foundation that money transactions, particularly between people working in government, have to be transparent and reported.
White Knight Christie has fallen off his horse. There are no seat belts on saddles.
But New Jersey doesn’t need a white knight. It needs an honest broker. Among the field of candidates, who is who they say they really are? Not easy to figure out when the answers are not always complete, by chance or design.
Sin of omission? Sin of commission? Either way, the truth is compromised.