Earlier this month, a report into the Bridgegate scandal cleared Chris Christie of all wrongdoing.
The Star-Ledger reports that, just two weeks before it released the report, the firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher — which Christie hired for the review — donated $10,000 to the Republican Governors Association. Christie chairs the RGA.
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You’ve already heard about the Joy Behar incident. There are a lot more golden tidbits in this week’s New Yorker profile of Chris Christie. Here are five of our favorite:
Christie owes some of his political success to New Jersey’s Democratic machine: That might sound odd, considering Christie’s a Republican. But the New Yorker article details how Christie’s relationship with two Democratic bosses — Joe DiVincenzo and some guy named George Norcross — has helped him to smooth sailing as governor. During Christie’s re-election campaign, in fact, “there seemed to be an informal non-compete agreement between (Norcross’s) organization and the Governor: Christie mostly stayed away from Norcross’s candidates, and Norcross mostly stayed out of the gubernatorial race.” DiVencenzo endorsed Christie outright. Christie’s ability to get along with Democrats — and thus appeal to centrists — was a rationale for his once-burgeoning presidential campaign. But as told here, the accommodations here seem less ideological, and more about power accommodating power.
Christie’s first political victory, election as a freeholder in the mid-1990s, was the result of a demonstrable lie:
This time, he was a reform candidate, promising to restore honest government, and he produced a TV ad charging that three of his opponents in the nine-person Republican primary were being “investigated by the Morris County prosecutor,” a serious accusation that happened to be false. Christie won the primary and then the general election, in part by assuring a more socially moderate electorate, “I am pro-choice.” But his victory was marred by the divisiveness of the campaign. The three victims of Christie’s false ad, including a freeholder named Cecilia Laureys, successfully sued him for defamation, and, after he lost an appeal, as part of the settlement he was forced to apologize to them in local newspapers.
Don’t Eff With Family, Part One: This has nothing to do with Christie, really, but is a great story about Norcross — and his mid-80s attempt to get State Sen. Lee Laskin to stop blocking the appointment of Norcross’s father to the New Jersey Racing Commission:
Norcross went to see him. “Senator, I come here as a son asking for a favor for his father,” Norcross said. “I don’t want my dad to know I ever came here to see you. This would mean the world to him. It would mean the world to me, and I would be forever indebted to you personally if you did this for my dad.”
Laskin leaned over his desk. “Fuck you and your father,” he said, according to Norcross. “All you corrupt Democrats.”
Norcross bided his time for six years — then took out a $430,000 personal loan to launch a blitz of negative ads againt Laskin’s re-election campaign. “We blew him away,” Norcross said. “It was the most exciting night I’ve ever had in politics in my life to this day.”
Don’t Eff With Family, Part Two: The New Yorker profile opens with former Gov. Thomas Kean, a mentor to Christie, seeming to withdraw his support. It’s not until the end we find out why — Christie was part of an attempted “coup” to remove Kean’s son, Thomas Jr., from his position as Senate Minority Leader.
On Wednesday, the night before the crucial vote to elect leaders for the new session, Christie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, who had been a prosecutor under Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s office, asked Kean, Jr., to come to the Governor’s office the following morning. There he told him that Christie wanted him to step aside. “I don’t think I’m willing to step aside,” Kean replied. O’Dowd disappeared to talk to Christie. When he returned, he told Kean that the Governor didn’t want to see him. Kean, Sr., didn’t expect his son to prevail. “I know how tough Chris is on people, and if you cross him he never forgets,” he said. “I didn’t think people were going to have the courage to take on the Governor after his reëlection.” Nevertheless, Kean retained his role as senate minority leader.
Tom Kean, Sr., felt betrayed by Christie’s move against his son. “I thought at some point the Governor would call me and say, ‘Hey, you gotta understand this, I had to do this for this reason or that reason.’ Whatever. But he never called me. The last time I talked to him was Election Night.”
The Watchdog Senator’s Investigative Background: Here’s how the Bridgegate scandal got started:
The bridge scandal might never have been revealed if not for the sleuthing of Loretta Weinberg, a seventy-nine-year-old self-described nosy Jewish grandmother who is also a Democratic state senator from Teaneck, New Jersey, just northwest of Fort Lee. “I bungled into the Port Authority issue, just out of my curiosity,” she told me.
In September, Weinberg read an item in the Bergen Record about the traffic jam. A commuter told the paper, “Other than after the 9/11 attacks, I’ve never seen such a fiasco of delays at the inbound, upper-level part of the bridge.” A senior official at the Port Authority promised Weinberg that he would “get to the bottom of it,” but when she didn’t hear back she became suspicious. “My training comes from having raised children through their adolescent years,” she told me. “ ‘What do you mean you didn’t have a party? You weren’t even smart enough to put the beer cans in someone else’s back yard.’ That’s my investigatory background.”
And yeah, that makes us kind of love Loretta Weinberg.
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Remember Chris Christie’s lawyers absolved him of all culpability in the Bridgegate scandal, and he went on a triumphant media tour that included a big interview with Diane Sawyer? Like, two weeks go?
He maybe should’ve waited.
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Chris Christie. AP Photo | Julio Cortez
Dear Governor Christie:
It is over. For the good of the Republican Party, the State of New Jersey, you, and your family, it is time to put to rest all speculation that you may run for president in 2016. Have one of your famous news conferences — call us all idiots if you’d like — but officially announce that you’ll not be running for president.
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The New York Times reports today that an inquiry into Bridgegate has found Chris Christie innocent of wrongdoing. Of course, that inquiry was conducted by … Chris Christie’s lawyer, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt.
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You’re not going to believe this, but Chris Christie argued with audience members at a town hall-style meeting in Middlesex County last night.
The Inquirer’s Maddie Hanna writes that Christie first had to deal with a coordinated call-and-response chant from protesters over “corrupt uses of Hurricane Sandy money.” Sadly, we don’t learn what the chant is, but my guess is “Hey, ho, hey, ho/Corrupt uses of Hurricane Sandy money have got to go!” Okay, maybe not.
Christie told the audience the protesters were from the Communication Workers of America — “people who we – we, collectively – have been standing up against for the last 4 1/2 years.” The union denied the affiliation.
The second disruption was more fun, because it featured better quotes from Christie.
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The New York Times reports this morning that Chris Christie’s administration used wreckage from 9/11 as “politically motivated gifts,” part of a politicization of the Port Authority that is coming under increasing scrutiny from federal prosecutors in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.
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Politico reports on the latest mini-scandal afflicting Gov. Chris Christie’s administration—jokes about causing Bridgegate-style “traffic problems” for a New Jersey rabbi:
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Guess the Bridgegate scandal isn’t hurting him too badly among Republican donors: “The same day the RGA reported a hefty haul thanks to Chris Christie, an RGA aide tells ABC News they raised $1 million today at fundraisers in Chicago. Christie held one-on-one fundraising meetings as well as headlining a dinner. This morning the RGA reported it has raised $6 million with the help of Christie and other GOP governors, more than twice as much as it has ever raised during the same month. Christie’s trip last week to Texas raised $1.5 million and he has other fundraising stops in Massachusetts, Utah, Georgia, Connecticut and Michigan on his schedule.” [ABC News]
The Hoboken Record reports that Chris Christie’s attorneys are doing their own investigation into the Bridgegate scandal—even asking Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer for an interview about her allegations that members of Christie’s cabinet threatened to withhold Sandy recovery aid if she didn’t play ball on a development project the governor favored.
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