Category Archives: Jon Corzine

Are "Christie’s" U.S. Attorneys Stonewalling the Corzine Campaign?

by Steve Singiser – Daily Kos
Sat Aug 22, 2009

Since early in the Spring (over 150 days ago, according to a clock helpfully placed in an online ad on PolitickerNJ), the campaign of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has been waiting on a Freedom of Information Act request. Back in March, Team Corzine began asking for documents pertaining to Chris Christie and his tenure in the U.S. Attorneys Office. A fishing expedition, perhaps, but one that is pretty common in campaigns.

The response, shall we say, has been lacking. Therefore, on Thursday, Team Corzine looked to kick it up a notch, filing several administrative challenges to the D.O.J. complaining about the stonewalling:

“The United States Attorney’s office has many fine, dedicated, professional lawyers,” said Corzine strategist Tom Shea. “But, in light of recent reports that Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra is under investigation to determine if he has used the office to help further the Christie campaign, Second Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown has an ongoing financial relationship with Christie and Christie was communicating with Karl Rove about his run for governor from that office, we feel it is even more important we receive the information requested.”

Friday morning, in a press release, they took it a step further, as Corzine’s nominee for Lt. Governor, state Senator Loretta Weinberg, made what would seem to be a pretty reasonable request:

Senator Loretta Weinberg today called on Assistant United States Attorney Michele Brown to be removed from having any participation in fulfilling the Corzine ’09 campaign’s FOIA requests after it was revealed in the Star-Ledger that Brown is “playing a role in the process of retrieving” the documents requested by the Corzine ’09 campaign.

In recent days, it was revealed that Christie has an ongoing financial relationship with Brown, the number two lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s office, which he failed to disclose in either his personal financial disclosure forms or tax returns. Citing Brown’s potential conflict of interest, Weinberg called today for Brown to be removed off the task of retrieving any of the FOIA requests.

So, if the Corzine campaign is correct on this one, the person who was working on fulfilling those requests for information on Chris Christie was someone who owes Chris Christie almost fifty grand. Armed with that nugget of information, it is not hard to see why the delivery on said requests has been a tad tardy.

For their part, the U.S. Attorney’s office is denying that Brown is in charge of such requests, saying that she has played a role, but only because some of the documents pertained to her.

This whole episode, nonetheless, is why the financial arrangement between Christie and Brown was a horrific idea on Christie’s part, if he was contemplating a political career (and, from all reports, he was contemplating one for quite some time).

Even taking Christie at his word (that he was simply giving a hand to a friend in need), the optics of a political candidate shelling out what we presume was an unsecured loan for that amount, to someone in a capacity to assist him politically (perhaps by…say…sitting on an FOIA request for said candidate’s opponent), looks just awful. The appearance of impropriety is glaring, even if everything is on the up-and-up.

This also, it would seem, is going to put the U.S. Attorney’s office in Jersey into an incredible bind, even to the point of potentially jeopardizing some of their prosecutorial ability, if some of their targets can paint the office as driven by partisan political motivation. Given how many bad guys come before that office over the course of time, offering them that kind of potential “out” is terribly troublesome.

Christie could, of course, dampen the effects of that by coming completely clean on the present state of his relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s office. At this point, however, he seems to have clammed up:

On Thursday, Christie refused to answer questions for a second day. His campaign had said he’d be available.

Appearing at a senior center in Garfield, Christie said he and running mate Kim Guadagno would “take the heat when it comes.” However, he went in through a side door, held off press queries during the event, then pointedly refused to answer who he’s still in contact with at the U.S. attorney’s office and how informed he is about day-to-day activities there.

The conventional wisdom a while ago was that the only way Jon Corzine could be re-elected was if (a) the economy recovered faster than expected or (b) Christie’s reputation as the “corruption fighter” could be tarnished. The first condition might prove a difficult get by November (although New Jersey did add jobs in the month of July), but the second condition seems to be becoming more and more plausible.

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Filed under Chris Christie, Daily Kos, Jon Corzine, Kim Guadagono, Lorretta Weinberg, Michele Brown, NJ-Gov. Race, PolitickerNJ, US Attorneys Office

Video: Christie, Rove, and the US Attorney’s office

It didn’t take long for the Corzine campaign to come out swinging after the latest revelation concerning the Governor’s opponent Chris Christie and his converations with Bush White House deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove.

Rove testified before the House Judiciary Committee on July 7, 2009 and acknowldged that he and Christie had conversations about a potential Christie run for the governorship of NJ while still acting an U.S Attorney.

Watch the video, then read the latest about this potential scandel from the Huffington Post:

New documents about Karl Rove’s involvement in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal have the potential to create ripples in the 2009 gubernatorial race in New Jersey.

In an on-the-record interview with the House Judiciary Committee on July 7, 2009, the former Bush strategist acknowledged that he had held several conversations with current GOP candidate Chris Christie over the course of several years regarding the possibility of running for the governor’s chair.

Christie, Rove said, was interested in mounting a bid and “asked me questions about who — who were good people that knew about running for governor that he could talk to.”

The admission ties the former New Jersey-based U.S. attorney even further to the Bush administration at a time when his election opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine, has attempted repeatedly to push that connection. It also raises questions as to how apolitical Christie was in his prior job.

Appointed by President Bush to the role of U.S. Attorney in January 2002, Christie earned a stellar reputation for busting white-collar criminals including crooked members of the political establishment. His success led to speculation that he would mount a bid for the governor’s chair, first against then Gov. James McGreevey, then against Corzine during the ’06 election. He dismissed the talk by positioning himself above the fray.

“I am just concentrating on this job and working on this job,” he told The Star-Ledger in November 2003. “I have absolutely no idea what the future will bring, but I feel I was given a job by the president, and I owe it to him to spend full-time concentrating on that job. And that doesn’t permit me to sit around and speculate about what I will do.”

In that same article Christie said he was being “extra sensitive” to avoid politics, lest those critics who accused him of being a Bush patronage appointee be proved correct.

Four years later, when talk came up again, the line was much the same. “I think about that only because people bring it up to me all the time,” Christie said about the election speculation in 2007. “But I don’t focus on that. If I do my job the best I can… The future will take care of itself.”

Around that time, it turns out, he was at least partially focused on a run at the governor’s chair. And he was turning to one of the GOP’s most prominent strategists for advice. As Rove told the House Judiciary Committee: “I talked to him twice in the last couple of years, perhaps one time while I was at the White House and once or twice since I left the White House, but — not regarding his duties as U.S. Attorney, but regarding his interest in running for governor.” …

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under Chris Christie, ethics, House Judiciary Committee, Jim McGreevey, Jon Corzine, Karl Rove, New Jersey, The Huffington Post

Joe Kyrillos’ Glass House

I thought that the following post and commentary from Blue Jersey’s Vincent Solomeno would be of interested to my fellow Midletown residents. The post deals deals with Middletown’s very own state Senator from the 13th District Joe Kyrillos and how he has tried to capitalize on the recent corruption cases for the Christie campaign. Vincent points out that Kyrillos supported evry one of the indicted Republicans that where wrapped up in 2005’s “Operation Bid Rid” and that people that live in galss houses shouldn’t be throwing stones. The artical was first posted on Blue Jersey last Thursday.

From Blue Jersey – by Vincent Solomeno

Like my mother says, people in glass houses should never throw stones. The Bergen Record’s Herb Jackson reports today that Solomon Dwek, the cooperating witness in the F.B.I.’s recent corruption bust, gave nearly $200,000 to New Jersey elected officials of both parties. While there is nothing nefarious about accepting a contribution, it is disconcerting when one considers the influence of money in our political system, a reality for lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.

Yesterday, CQPolitics changed their estimate of the New Jersey gubernatorial race from Toss-Up to Leans Republican. The story on the ratings change included a quote from State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), State Chairman of Chris Christie for Governor, who was quick to link Democrats to the latest round of indictments:

“I think that the New Jersey Democratic party is a major embarrassment, not just to people here at home, but should be to Democrats all over this country,” said Christie campaign chairman Joe Kyrillos, a state senator.

“There’s a culture and an enabling of people and care and feeding of the wrong kinds of actors and a looking the other way that has a allowed this kind of episode – and it’s not the first one – to take place,” he said.

Kyrillos is right that there is a culture that enables corruption in New Jersey politics. What he neglected to acknowledge is the bipartisan nature of the problem. Which is interesting, considering he actively supported every one of the Republican elected officials nabbed in the 2005 wave of Operation Bid Rig. He even counted some among his friends. As Jackson’s report makes clear, Kyrillos also accepted $5,200 from Dwek, notwithstanding the $51,000 given over to the Republican State Committee.

No one is saying Kyrillos is crooked. Dwek also donated to the re-election campaign of Congressman Frank Pallone and to the Democratic State Committee. Like Pallone, Kyrillos is giving the contributions over to charity. And while there was nothing wrong with accepting the contributions in the first place, Dwek’s inroads demonstrate that the permanent quest for cash inherent in New Jersey’s political culture is a problem for both Democrats and Republicans.

Corruption has nothing to do with political party. Chris Christie has said as much himself. It’s a fact that his campaign chairman, with his own ties to corrupt politicians and dirty money, would be wise to remember. Because really, Joe, people in glass houses should never throw stones.

politicizing corruption (4.00 / 1)
In the past, I’ve seen more level-headed Republicans such as Senator O’Toole not use a political corruption case as a pretense to lambaste the state Democratic Party. But such behavior would be too much to ask for from Christie puppy-dog Kyrillos, who doesn’t undertand that, as Vincent rightly put it, corruption knows no party boundary.
Interestingly enough, besides the Dwek donation and the Bid Rig scandal connections mentioned above, Kyrillos may have some other Christie-centered, quid-pro-quo issues in his closet. According to the On Our Radar blog

The Christie brothers’ business associates, including Kyrillos, also donated generously to the state Republicans during that critical time Chris was being considered for recommendation. Does one hand wash another? Employees of Todd’s New York company then donated $14,000 to Kyrillos’ campaign in October 2001. In the three years Kyrillos held a committee chairmanship, the Christies and their associates gave the Kyrillos campaign $30,850.
Last week’s horrific corruption case that was brought to light had very little to do with any systemic Democratic corruption and everything to do with transparency and checks and balances on a general level. Kyrillos may spout lame Christie talking points, but he has his own possible ethical quandaries to worry about.

And we haven’t even mentioned huntsu’s research on Kyrillos hyperpolitical college interview with Christie that couldn’t even be aired…


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Filed under Chris Christie, corruption, CQ politics, featured, Frank Pallone, Herb Jackson, Joe Kyrillos, Jon Corzine, Operation Bid Rig, political wire, Solomon Dwek

>Newsletter From Rush Holt

>With the continuing turmoil in our financial markets, we must address its effect on the retirement security of American families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, American workers have lost as much as $2 trillion in retirement savings over the last year. Americans rightly are worried that their savings will not be there to meet their needs as they hoped. We have also seen leading companies freeze or end their defined contribution, 401(k), plans. Further, even some defined benefit plans, which provide retirees with a guaranteed pension check, may be in doubt.

The House Committee on Energy and Labor, of which I am a member, continues to study ways to preserve defined benefit plans and strengthen 401(k) and other retirement plans. One step we must take is to suspend temporarily a federal regulation that will force individuals over 70 ½ years of age to make a withdrawal from their retirement account. This week, the House passed this with my support, and we await action by the Senate. The Census bureau estimates that 5.5 million seniors have IRA’s or 401 (k) plans and could be forced to sell financial assets at a tumultuous time in the market. I have heard from many New Jersey seniors, about these required minimum distributions for 2008. This Congressional Research Service report contains more information on this issue.
Of course, our committee cannot turn around the stock market and the whole economy. Nonetheless, our committee will continue our work to protect retirement security, and I hope to hear from you about any ideas you may have to address this issue.

Helping the World’s Poor
I previously have written about my interest in lifting millions around the world out of poverty by providing them access to small loans. Such microfinance programs have the power to transform the lives of the world’s poorest by providing access to small amounts of money (often less than $150) to start self-sustaining businesses. Microfinance programs are having a very positive effect around the globe.
Recently, I wrote a bipartisan letter requesting that World Bank President Robert Zoellick expand microfinance efforts. Specifically, my letter, signed by 92 Members of Congress, encourages the World Bank to create a $200 million grant program to reach the very poor with microfinance loans, and to establish regionally-focused Centers of Excellence. The global financial and economic crisis appears to be affecting the world’s poor badly. Increasing the availability of microfinance is one way we can help those most in need, both abroad and here at home as credit remains tight.
Help for Small Businesses
Recently, the Small Business Administration announced it is allowing banks to make 7(a) loans at interest rates based on the London interbank offered rate, which is lower than the standard U.S. prime rate. Many New Jersey banks offer the lower rate, and small businesses in the region will now be able to benefit. All businesses that are considered for financing under SBA’s 7(a) loan program must meet SBA size standards, be for-profit, not already have the internal resources (business or personal) to provide the financing, and be able to demonstrate repayment.
By the way, I was pleased to see Governor Corzine’s announcement this week creating the “InvestNJ Business Grant Program” to help stimulate capital investment and job creation. Under the program, companies can obtain $3,000 grants for each new job they create and sales tax reimbursements on capital purchases of $5,000 or more. Applications will be available next month. More information can be found here.
Sincerely,
RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under 12th congressional district, 401(k), Congressional Budget Office, Financial crisis, INVEST NJ, Jon Corzine, Newsletter, Rush Holt, small businesses, World Bank, World's poor

Newsletter From Rush Holt

With the continuing turmoil in our financial markets, we must address its effect on the retirement security of American families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, American workers have lost as much as $2 trillion in retirement savings over the last year. Americans rightly are worried that their savings will not be there to meet their needs as they hoped. We have also seen leading companies freeze or end their defined contribution, 401(k), plans. Further, even some defined benefit plans, which provide retirees with a guaranteed pension check, may be in doubt.

The House Committee on Energy and Labor, of which I am a member, continues to study ways to preserve defined benefit plans and strengthen 401(k) and other retirement plans. One step we must take is to suspend temporarily a federal regulation that will force individuals over 70 ½ years of age to make a withdrawal from their retirement account. This week, the House passed this with my support, and we await action by the Senate. The Census bureau estimates that 5.5 million seniors have IRA’s or 401 (k) plans and could be forced to sell financial assets at a tumultuous time in the market. I have heard from many New Jersey seniors, about these required minimum distributions for 2008. This Congressional Research Service report contains more information on this issue.
Of course, our committee cannot turn around the stock market and the whole economy. Nonetheless, our committee will continue our work to protect retirement security, and I hope to hear from you about any ideas you may have to address this issue.

Helping the World’s Poor
I previously have written about my interest in lifting millions around the world out of poverty by providing them access to small loans. Such microfinance programs have the power to transform the lives of the world’s poorest by providing access to small amounts of money (often less than $150) to start self-sustaining businesses. Microfinance programs are having a very positive effect around the globe.
Recently, I wrote a bipartisan letter requesting that World Bank President Robert Zoellick expand microfinance efforts. Specifically, my letter, signed by 92 Members of Congress, encourages the World Bank to create a $200 million grant program to reach the very poor with microfinance loans, and to establish regionally-focused Centers of Excellence. The global financial and economic crisis appears to be affecting the world’s poor badly. Increasing the availability of microfinance is one way we can help those most in need, both abroad and here at home as credit remains tight.
Help for Small Businesses
Recently, the Small Business Administration announced it is allowing banks to make 7(a) loans at interest rates based on the London interbank offered rate, which is lower than the standard U.S. prime rate. Many New Jersey banks offer the lower rate, and small businesses in the region will now be able to benefit. All businesses that are considered for financing under SBA’s 7(a) loan program must meet SBA size standards, be for-profit, not already have the internal resources (business or personal) to provide the financing, and be able to demonstrate repayment.
By the way, I was pleased to see Governor Corzine’s announcement this week creating the “InvestNJ Business Grant Program” to help stimulate capital investment and job creation. Under the program, companies can obtain $3,000 grants for each new job they create and sales tax reimbursements on capital purchases of $5,000 or more. Applications will be available next month. More information can be found here.
Sincerely,
RUSH HOLT
Member of Congress

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Filed under 12th congressional district, 401(k), Congressional Budget Office, Financial crisis, INVEST NJ, Jon Corzine, Newsletter, Rush Holt, small businesses, World Bank, World's poor

NJ and Business, Perfect Together pt. 1

Assembly members Linda R. Greenstein and Joseph Vas (both D- Middlesex) discuss the enactment of the “Invest New Jersey Business Grant Program,” (A-3294) that would expand and improve the state’s job growth and business retention grant programs by providing small and mid-size businesses with grants of $3,000 for each new job they create.

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Filed under Assemblyman Joseph Vas, Assemblywoman Linda R. Greenstein, Invest New Jersey Business Grant Program, job growth, Jon Corzine, med-size businesses, New Jersey, small businesses

NJ and Business, Perfect Together pt. 1

Assembly members Linda R. Greenstein and Joseph Vas (both D- Middlesex) discuss the enactment of the “Invest New Jersey Business Grant Program,” (A-3294) that would expand and improve the state’s job growth and business retention grant programs by providing small and mid-size businesses with grants of $3,000 for each new job they create.

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Filed under Assemblyman Joseph Vas, Assemblywoman Linda R. Greenstein, Invest New Jersey Business Grant Program, job growth, Jon Corzine, med-size businesses, New Jersey, small businesses