Category Archives: Hatch Act

Public Perception

There is a thin vale that separates reality from perception, very often ones own perception of events supersedes the reality of what actually has taken place. The Corzine campaign knows this and is using it to there advantage over Republican opponent Chris Christie.

The recent news about Christie speaking to Karl Rove about a potential run for the New Jersey governorship on top of the failure to disclose the loan of $46,000 to his assitant federal prosecutor, Michele Brown, while heading the US Attorneys office has left Christie open to attacks rightfully on his character and motivations.

The follwing opinion from piece from the Burlington County Times lays out Christie’s problem exactly:

Burlington County Times

Throughout his campaign for New Jersey governor, Republican candidate Chris Christie has represented himself as an ethics reformer who will “stop corruption in its tracks.”

Now that he has been forced to address questions about a $46,000 loan he made to an assistant when he was U.S. attorney, and that he failed to report it on his income tax and financial disclosure forms, he may want to change his approach.

Christie has said that it was all a mistake and that he plans to file all the amended paperwork.

OK, we’re willing to believe that.

But what really bothers us is the admission that Christie spoke with Karl Rove, adviser to former President George W. Bush, during his time as U.S. attorney. Rove has said that they discussed Christie’s interest in running for the state’s highest office. That means that Christie may have been actively pursuing the governorship while serving as a federal prosecutor. And that’s a violation of the Hatch Act, a law that restricts employees of the executive branch of the federal government, as well as state and federal employees, from any political activity.

Rove was well-known for blurring the lines between politics and the Justice Department and allegedly rated U.S. attorneys based on their loyalty. It also has been reported that he threatened to fire prosecutors who refused to pursue certain politically motivated cases.

In the middle of the 2006 election, Christie subpoenaed U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. The investigation never led to any charges. Democrats claimed at the time that the probe was politically motivated and now cite Christie’s conversation with Rove as proof.

Christie’s record of winning convictions against a large number of corrupt public officials struck a chord with Garden State voters sick and tired of political corruption in the state.

Now, the fact that the majority of those officials prosecuted by Christie during his tenure were Democrats seems less of a coincidence, and it’s easier to believe the link between Christie and former President Bush being made by Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign.

If voters believe they’ll have to second-guess any and all of Christie’s work as a federal prosecutor, as well as the motivation behind it, what may have been a benign conversation could end up costing him the election.

It would not be the first time a candidate has been done in by public perception.

Leave a comment

Filed under Burlington County Times, Chris Christie, ethical violations, Gov. Jon Corzine, Hatch Act, Karl Rove, Michele A. Brown, US Attorneys Office

Harper’s Magazine: Manure for the Garden State

Harper’s Magazine’s Scott Horton wrote an excellent piece yesterday detailing how Chris Christie may have used his influence with friends/former employees left over at the US Attorneys Office to stage some political theather to effect the New Jersey race for governor by moving forward on a corruption crackdown that netted 44 politicians, officials and religious leaders in one day last month.

When you add this information together with possible Hatch act violantions and his loan of $46,000 to an employee in the US Attorney’s Office, Michele Brown, and his failures to disclose it on finanical statements and ELEC reports, a clear picture is starting to emerge that Chris Christie may not be the “White Knight” of political corruption busting that he wishes every to believe he is. His suit of armour as the say “Is tarneshed” :
On July 23, Acting U.S. Attorney in New Jersey Ralph Marra grabbed the nation’s attention by stepping before the cameras to announce the fruits of a long political corruption investigation managed by his office. Forty-four individuals had been indicted on charges that demonstrated the “pervasive nature of public corruption in this state,” he said. The haul included two state assemblymen, the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, and Ridgefield, and numerous lesser figures. “The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale,” Marra told the press. “For these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone.” He praised the long work of the FBI and his team. But of course the media proceeded to credit the man who launched and oversaw the probe for most of its course, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

As it happens, Christie is the Republican candidate to replace Jon Corzine as governor of New Jersey. He’s running on an anti-corruption platform, and this news—which stole headlines for a solid week—helped to propel him to a solid lead over the incumbent in the polls.

Watching this unfold, it was hard not to notice how convenient it all was for the Christie campaign. The announcement reflected a substantial number of largely unrelated cases, but they had been aggregated and held for arrests all on the same day as a sort of batch-release. Whatever law-enforcement considerations justified this step, it clearly helped gain newspaper headlines. Moreover, the announcement came at the end of July, which is the last possible moment for indictments with political impact in an election year cycle. Department of Justice guidelines preclude a U.S. attorney from announcing politically-charged indictments in a campaign season, which, by general reckoning, would begin the following month.

So it all looked good for Chris Christie—his accusations of public corruption were dramatically validated in newspaper headlines, and he was presented as a sort of Thomas E. Dewey—a clean prosecutor in a position to right the situation. But now, suddenly the Associated Press reported that the

Justice Department was examining whether acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra made inappropriate public comments that boosted Republican Chris Christie’s political challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Before running for office, Christie was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and Marra was his top deputy. Marra made the comments last month while announcing the corruption case against dozens of suspects.

But the investigation may wind up reaching far beyond an error in judgment about specific words used at a press conference or the timing of the announcement of indictments. The Justice Department’s internal probe comes just as The New York Times reveals the existence of a significant, undisclosed financial relationship between Christie and Michele A. Brown, another prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. In response to an appeal from Brown, whose husband had lost his job, Christie loaned her $46,000 and took a mortgage on her home as security. The matter raises interest because failure to report this dealing is potentially a crime—and indeed, in the group of 44 political figures whose indictment was announced on July 23, one—Bergen County Democrat Dennis Oury—was indicted specifically for filing financial statements that failed to disclose a holding in a company that received public funds.

Today, Christie sounds remarkably like Mr. Oury:

“When I make mistakes, I’m going to admit them,” he said, adding that he had already amended some of those filings and would finish the rest by Friday. “It was certainly nothing that I was trying to conceal or hide.”…

Read More >>>Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Chris Christie, ethical violations, Gov. Jon Corzine, Harper Magazine, Hatch Act, Michele Brown, New Jersey, political corruption, Ralph Marra, Scott Horton, U.S Attorney Office