UPDATE: More from the Post, he’s not running.
Underneath all these concerned and principled “conservatives,” it seems, there’s an inner crony capitalist looking to enrich himself and his friends. It’s now Chris Christie’s turn to be revealed.
Chris Christie didn’t become governor of New Jersey the easy way. He first had to overcome a gauntlet of scandals in which he was accused of crony capitalism, big spending, and using his government title to get himself out of legal trouble.
And that’s just the lede. Some of the details (my emphasis and paragraphing):
One of the most persistent stories that dogged Christie in his 2009 campaign was his unusual financial relationship with a top aide at his federal prosecutor office, Michele Brown. Christie lent Brown some $46,000, which he says was to help a family friend through a rough patch.
But critics argued that the move was an improper conflict of interest heading into a gubernatorial campaign since Brown was in a position to help Christie in a variety of ways. Her job included handling FOIA requests, including those from Governor Corzine’s campaign, for example.
And in one instance, she argued to colleagues in favor of wrapping up a major corruption probe before July 1, when Christie’s successor took over the US Attorney position, a move that ensured credit for the case would clearly flow to Christie. Brown resigned shortly after news of the loan broke and, according to the New York Times, she paid off Christie’s loan in October 2010.
It wasn’t the only allegation of conflict of interest that Christie fought off. The then-US Attorney testified before Congress on a series of no-bid monitoring contracts worth millions that he awarded to various law firms. One contract, worth up to $52 million, went to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christie’s old mentor. Another former US Attorney chosen for a monitoring contract, David Kelley, had previously investigated Christie’s brother in a stock fraud case in 2005 — he was not indicted while fifteen others were.
So just in these two stories, Christie loans an aide in his US Attorney’s office almost $50,000 — and she appears to returns the favor by helping to wrap up prosecutions early so Christie can get lots of tough-daddy cred for the convictions; she’s also the point person on FOIA requests from Christie’s 2009 election opponent, then Gov. Corzine, among others.
And that doesn’t begin to cover the sweetheart contracts. They went to many more people than John Ashcroft, he of the anointed-by-Crisco incorruptibility. (Sometimes I think if it weren’t for God’s blessing, we wouldn’t know who the good guys are.)
No wonder Christie is trying hard not to run for president. It would be uphill all the way.