NJ-Gov: Christie Melts In The Dog Days Of August
At Netroots Nation I saw Gov. Jon Corzine speak on a panel about the 21st century economy. Corzine is a former head of Goldman Sachs, so I'd lose my membership in the Matt Taibbi fan club if I said "go out and support the vampire squid," but you don't see Wall Street types saying "tax policy is completely biased to capital versus labor" and "we need green job-focused unions" and the like. He's one of the better ones. And his opponent in this campaign is truly a piece of work.
It's not just that Chris Christie definitively spoke to Karl Rove about running for the Governor of New Jersey while still holding the job of US Attorney for the state, which is against the law. Corzine, in fact, went ahead and called him a lawbreaker in that instance. But there's much more here. Christie consistently used his perch at the US Attorney's office to punish Democrats for partisan ends, most notably in the case of Robert Menendez, who Christie subpoenaed for no particular reason right before the 2006 Senate race. And at a time when Christie is painting himself as a paragon of ethics and a hammer for law enforcement, stories like this will not help that image:
He billed himself as a corruption fighter, questioned the ethics of those in power and promised to put an end to no-bid contracts for the politically connected. But when Christopher J. Christie was elected and his reform proposal was voted down, he gave up the fight and went on to approve hundreds of such contracts, including more than 50 for contributors to his campaigns [...]
His strategy is vintage Christie: A look at his career shows he has repeatedly used the whiff of corruption as a cudgel against political opponents. But his short-lived attempt to ban no-bid contracts as a freeholder raises questions over whether his zeal for an ethics overhaul is more than just campaign hype and would last if he became governor and met resistance from lawmakers he could not control.
This goes along with subsequent deliveries of no-bid contracts to Bush Administration officials like John Ashcroft.
Worst of all, we have the latest story, broken by NJN News, about a $46,000 loan Christie gave to one of his employees:
Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and current Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, is now getting a new headache over a story that was broken last night by New Jersey Public Television -- that in 2007, Christie made a $46,000 personal loan to an assistant of his in the U.S. Attorney's office, which is still being paid off in regular installments:
Christie said he did not view this as an improper financial relationship: "I just believe that if you have friends who are in need, that you help them, whether they work with you or whether they're friends of yours from outside the work realm. We were happy to be able to help, and they've been great about repaying the loan."
Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign has pounced on the report, saying that a candidate for governor should not have an ongoing financial relationship with someone who is still working in the U.S. Attorney's office. "This raises more significant questions and legal issues for the Christie campaign," said Corzine spokesman Sean Darcy. "Are they still in contact? Have they been discussing this campaign? What impact has their ongoing financial relationship had on the gubernatorial campaign?"
Christie never disclosed this loan, in violation of state and federal laws.
Basically, the default position of New Jersey voters is that their elected officials are horribly corrupt. All things being equal, at the statewide level they go with the Democrat. Christie has tried to cultivate an image of an honest crime-fighter, but these revelations have really made that image fall apart. If this is the typical "we hate all our politicians" New Jersey race, suddenly Corzine looks like he's back in it, especially if the job numbers start turning around there.
Blue Jersey will have the best coverage of this race.
...the AFL-CIO has set up an attack website about Christie detailing his issues on working families. Union membership is relatively high in New Jersey, so if they can be mobilized, Corzine has a better shot.
...The Rove-Christie relationship goes back at least to 2003.