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More Christie Mythology From the Punditry

Last week we noted that Bob Ingle was inflating Chris Christie’s record in order to expand the impression that our US Attorney has never used his office for partisan gain.  Now we caught another columnist doing the same, and worse.

Chris Christie
This is Spiderman?

In today’s column The Trentonian’s Jeff Edelstein has nicknamed Chris Christie Spiderman.  Edelstein envisions Christie in blue and red tights swinging over the streets of the Garden State, because “Christie, much like Spider-Man, spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies.”

Seriously.  Not kidding.

Of course to get to this disturbing image Edelstein decided to make up facts instead of researching them.  It seems to be an endemic problem with columnists in New Jersey, with Edelstein standing at or near the top of the heap.

Now, as you know, Christie is the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and under his watch, 105 politicians and political appointees have been charged and convicted.

And he’s never lost a case. He’s 105-0. And it doesn’t matter if it’s water board members or the biggest fish in the scummy New Jersey political pond, Christie goes after them and gets them.

Sorry, Jeff.  But Christie only claims 125 cases including investigations, indictments and convictions as of yesterday, and not the 105 convictions Edelstein claims.  If this weren’t a column in the Trentonian a retraction would be in order for such a wild exaggeration of fact.

A review of the NJ US Attorney’s Office press releases provides just 59 convictions, 21 of Republicans, 37 of Democrats and one we could not determine a party affiliation for.  That leaves another 46 for Edelstein to find.  Or retract.

But Edelstein’s number was about investigations, so let’s see if that proves the point.  A review of all available investigations – the US Attorney likes to quote numbers of cases but doesn’t return phone calls of people seeking to find out what they are – finds a much greater disparity between parties.  Of the 150 people we found who have been investigated, indicted or convicted only 33 are Republicans and 112 are Democrats. Five are unknown.

We’ll do a more in-depth analysis in a later post, but the preliminary review shows that Democrats are 300 percent more likely to be investigated than Republicans, a number far out of whack with the true ratio of party identification or elected officials.  Dems are only 175 percent as likely to be convicted.

Edelstein goes on to hero-worship Christie’s speeches, and use Christie’s own assertions as defense of Christie:

For instance, he twice highlighted the word “Republican” when discussing putting members of the GOP behind bars. He also recounted a conversation he had with then- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who told him to “check your politics at the door.”

And as far as I can see, Christie has done just that.

We’ve already demonstrated how far Edelstein can see, and how accurately.  But leave that aside and note that he is impressed that Christie said the word “Republican” twice while talking about ? Republicans.  Somebody out there has got to help me with this one, because I just don’t get it.

The Ashcroft thing is just as ridiculous.  Attorney John Ashcroft was a master at telling us he was non-partisan in his effort while engaging in partisan activities, and using him as a paragon of virtue that Christie follows is laughable at best.

Ashcroft changed hiring practices in the Department of Justice program that hired new law school graduates to remove it from the civil servants and put it under political appointees, with the result being far more members of the arch-conservative Federalist Society getting interviews and being hired. (Washington Post, 1/12/2003)

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette noted that Ashcroft turned his “front-line federal prosecutors into a politicized lobbying team” in support of the Patriot Act, using them for political support rather than catching criminals.

And then, of course, there were the politically convenient terror alerts that were always ready to distract from bad news for President Bush or to remind the voting public of the threat just before an election.  Terror alerts that shockingly stopped coming after the 2004 Presidential election.

No, if Christie is using Ashcroft as his measure of how to run a non-partisan prosecutor’s office then he is in deep trouble.