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General News    H1'ed 1/22/14

Chris Christie's Many Tales From the Dark Side

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Debra Wong Yang, a well-connected former colleague of Christie's was given a no-bid monitor contract to oversee the Deputy Orthopaedics Inc settlement, and John Carley, another well-connected Republican lawyer, monitored a non-prosecution agreement involving Stryker Orthopedics.

A $300 million settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb included the highly unusual provision calling for the endowment of a professorship at Seton Hall Law School, from which Christie had graduated.   Such requirements were later specifically barred by the U.S. Justice Department.

David Samson was appointed to monitor Christie's deferred prosecution agreement with yet another medical device manufacturer, Smith and Nephew, Inc.   Samson's law firm, Wolff & Samson, also did legal work for Christie's 2008 Gubernatorial campaign , billing it more than $18 million for legal work and rent.   Samson, an elder statesman in New Jersey politics who prefers working behind the scenes, is now himself under scrutiny in the Bridgegate scandal.   He is Chairman of the Port Authority, New Jersey's top representative on that body; founding member of the influential Wolff & Samson law firm; and chaired Christie's transitional team for governor. E-mails he wrote to other Port Authority officials expressed his chagrin with Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye's attempts to reopen the Fort Lee traffic lanes to the GW Bridge, accusing Foye of "stirring up trouble," adding that   "In this case, he's playing in traffic, made a big mistake."   Samson was the direct supervisor of Bill Baroni who resigned from the Port Authority last month as a result of his role in the lane closings.   His Wolff & Samson law firm also represents the Rockefeller Group whose proposed government-subsidized Hoboken redevelopment project has also become part of the still-expanding Bridgegate scandal.   Samson is one of 17 people subpoenaed last week in connection with the scandal, and has retained former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to represent him. 

HATCH ACT VIOLATION ALLEGATIONS:

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It was widely believed by those in the know in New Jersey that Chris Christie would eventually run for Governor.   There was nothing wrong with harboring such ambitions until Karl Rove let slip that while still U.S. Attorney Christie met with individuals to plan the logistics and strategy for the planned run which, if true, represented a violation of the Hatch Act which "is intended to ensure federal employees do their jobs without regard to partisan politics."   In August 2009   Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for an investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel (OFC), into Christie's recently-revealed conversations with Karl Rove about a potential run for governor while Christie was a U.S. Attorney.   The OFC ultimately advised CREW that it would not investigate the alleged Hatch Act violation "because no meaningful disciplinary action could be taken against him. When OSC finds a presidential appointee has violated the Hatch Act, its only recourse is to recommend the President of the United States take disciplinary action against that appointee."   The OSC acknowledged that the CREW charges against Chris Christie "ordinarily would trigger an investigation by OSC and, if the facts warranted, a recommendation to the President of the United States for appropriate action."   CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan observed that "the Office of Special Counsel's letter clearly indicates that were he still the U.S. Attorney, he would be under investigation for such conduct."

 

MOST LIKELY TO EXCEED:

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In November 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General reported on an audit it had conducted regarding submitted expenses from all U.S. Attorneys.   As with other Federal employees, there are guidelines defining allowable expenses while travelling on the government's dime. The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys were found to generally follow the expense guidelines, but there were four exceptions where the audit found a pattern of excess expenses submitted for reimbursement.   One in particular " was the U.S. Attorney who most often exceeded the government rate without adequate justification. "   That U.S. Attorney was identified in the report as "US Attorney C," but was subsequently revealed to be none other than Chris Christie, and the report seemed to reveal a pattern of entitlement and arrogance unequaled among the other   92 U.S. Attorneys .   15 of Christie's vouchers submitted for reimbursement for lodging exceeded the allowable government rate (65% of all vouchers submitted by Christie), and in 14 of those 15 vouchers insufficient justification was found for exceeding the government rate.   On average Christie exceeded the government rate by about $150 per night, and by as much as $242 per night.   The report stated that "U.S. Attorney C was the U.S. Attorney who most often exceeded the government rate without adequate justification."   As one example, Christie travelled to Boston and "stayed at the Nine Zero Hotel at a cost of $449 per night, which was more than double the government rate of $220 per night in Boston.   On that same trip Christie prearranged a car service to and from the airport at a cost of $236 rather than taking a cab for the 4 mile trip.   Christie also prearranged a car service when he travelled to London on official government business at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $562.  

 

The report noted that the Inspector General's office had sought to discuss his expense vouchers with Christie, but that " U.S. Attorney C declined our request for an interview ."

 

THOSE DAMN MOTORCYCLISTS:

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You really don't want to be driving on the same road as Chris Christie, at least not if it is Christie who is behind the wheel.   Christie received 25 violation points since 1985 including six accidents and 13 moving violations.   Those are the ones we know about because Christie has been known to pull rank as he did in 2002 when he struck a motorcyclist while driving the wrong way on a one-way street and avoiding a ticket In the process. In that case the Elizabeth Director acknowledged that Christie had informed the police officer on the scene that he was the U.S.   Attorney, and while declining to accuse the officer of allowing that fact to influence his decision not to issue a citation, he did concede that "I think the facts speak for themselves." In that incident Christie's car was towed and the motorcyclist was taken to the hospital, but Christie, who was uninjured, was permitted to proceed on his way to a political event.   Christie has been less than candid about the incident, telling Talking Points Memo that the cyclist had not filed suit against Christie when in fact he had.   The clerk of the court informed TPM that the suit had been dismissed, indicating there had been an out-of-court settlement.

THE NEW JERSEY SURVEILLANCE STATE: BRING IT ON

While serving as U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie was no protector of the right to privacy, or of the need to trouble himself with obtaining court warrants before tracking New Jersey residents.    His office routinely tracked people through their cell phones without obtaining search warrants.   The American Civil Liberties Union flushed out the documents from the Justice Department as part of an ongoing lawsuit over cell phone tracking.   ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump noted: Tracking the location of people's cell phones reveals intimate details of their daily routines and is highly invasive of their privacy. The government is violating the Constitution when it fails to get a search warrant before tracking people this way.

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I am a retired advertising sales executive/manager and am now Executive Director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). I am also a member of the Senior Editor Team at Op Ed News. I also serve as Research Director and Board (more...)
 

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