I wrote recently about embattled governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie, about how he is Wall Street’s top choice in 2016, and also the top choice of our ironically named national security state.
To summarize the main point of that piece, here’s Chris Hedges, as quoted there (my emphasis):
Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama’s softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity.
The “moral compass of Al Capone” — “ruthlessly crush those of us working to overthrow the corporate state” — “Christie … is drooling for the opportunity.” Oh boy. No wonder that one of us (me) called Christie “the most dangerous man in politics today.” If you want to click back to that piece, you’ll see why the Emperor Nero comes to mind.
But Christie has a fatal flaw — at least I hope it’s fatal. He has a long history of corruption and a long list of people who remember it.
Hedges quotes Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their book “Double Down: Game Change 2012” on Christie (this quote is from the book via Hedges; my paragraphing):
There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association at a time when Bernie Madoff was a senior SIA official—and sought an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. …
There was Christie’s decision to steer hefty government contracts to donors and political allies such as former attorney general John Ashcroft, which sparked a congressional hearing.
There was a defamation lawsuit brought against Christie, arising out of his successful 1994 run to oust an incumbent in a local Garden State race.
Then there was Todd Christie [the governor’s brother], who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making ‘hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.’ (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.) And all of that was on top of a litany of glaring matters that sparked concern on [the Romney] team: Christie’s other lobbying clients; his investments overseas; the YouTube clips that helped make him a star but might call into doubt his presidential temperament; and the status of his health.
That’s quite the trail of scandals and scandals-to-be.
Word of Christie’s scandal-ridden past precedes 2011
The quote above is from a book published in 2013. But this is an old old story with Christie. I want to point out that when he was first rumored to be running for the 2012 race, as early as 2011 and before, stories like these emerged in a flood, prompting myself and a number of others to suggest that higher office would in fact be a death-trap for Christie’s careeer.
Here’s the bulk of a piece I wrote in October 2011. Sound familiar?
Numerous Chris Christie corruption scandals would re-emerge if he ran for president in 2012
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.
This time, at least until recently, he’s been trying hard to run, and it’s still uphill all the way. Will Christie succeed in landing his seat in the Oval Office and delivering hard goods to the sociopaths who run Wall Street and our so-called “security” state?
It will take continued effort to take his presidential chess piece off the table, but this is both a winnable fight and a fight worth having. Is Chris Christie the most dangerous politician in America today? Not if he topples and falls. But he won’t fall on his own. We need to keep at it.
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