Cross Posted atLegal Schnauzer
We long have described Alabama as "Ground Zero" for Bush-era corruption in the U.S. justice system, with Mississippi a close second.
But we now know that the rot did not end when George W. Bush left office, and it certainly is not limited to the Deep South. In fact, recent reporting from Andrew Kreig of the Justice Integrity Project tells us that decay is present in two states--New Jersey and Minnesota--that we long have considered relatively progressive.
In New Jersey,the sleaze involves Republican Governor Chris Christie, who has become a darling in conservative circles for his "common-sense" ideas regarding fiscal issues. In Minnesota, it involves governmental abuse of victims ina fraud case that would make Bernie Madoff proud.
David Broder, veteran columnist forThe Washington Post,has touted Christie as a role model for conservatives hoping to be elected this fall. But Kreig's reporting raises this question: Has David Broder, at age 81, lost his ability to think critically?
Christie has become a national figure since being elected governor in January 2010. Before that, he was a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney. And Kreig says Christie's actions then, and his rhetoric now, do not add up:
Far from limiting government, Christie, right, wasted vast amounts of taxpayer funds to help himself and his cronies. Look no farther than his scheme as U.S. attorney to connive with Solomon Dwek, a big-time bank swindler and brothel operator, to crush political opponents with criminal charges timed to explode at the beginning of the 2009 Christie campaign.
It turns out that, at one point during his U.S. attorney reign, Christie was considered not sufficiently aggressive on political prosecutions. And that kind of thing could get you in trouble with the Bush administration:
During 2006, Christie was placed on a preliminary list of those slated for firing for insufficient political loyalty, according to subsequent testimony. His actions after that included:
* Pre-election subpoenas tarnishing New Jersey's Democratic Senate candidate Robert Menendez 61 days prior to election. The subpoenas never resulted in charges but prompted many headlines suggesting corruption by Menendez before he narrowly won reelection. Christie, not surprisingly, survived the political purge just after the election that cost eight of his peers nationally their jobs and sent a powerful message to all remaining prosecutors.
* No-bid contracts for tens of millions of dollars to prominent Republican former Justice Department officials to monitor settlement agreements with corporate criminal defendants. One contract valued at $28 million to $52 million went to former Republican U.S. Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, below, Christie's former boss, to monitor a kick-back scheme by Zimmer Holdings to induce surgeons to use its medical devices. A similar no-bid deal went to former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Herbert Stern, Christie's mentor.
But that's not all:
Christie's biggest step in scoring points in his inner-party circles as a loyal apparatchik was a plan to empower bank swindler Dwek with federal funds to set up defendants in "Bid Rig III" (a code term devised by law enforcement) in a sting operation.
1 | 2