Author Archive: DSWright

Chris Christie’s Lobbying Records

Promoted by Rosi. You can find the documents – 92 pages of them – related to Christie’s life as a lobbyist, below the fold. Originally posted on Firedoglake.

Documents obtained by Firedoglake under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) detail New Jersey Governor and popular contender for the Republican Party’s 2016 Presidential nomination Chris Christie’s career as a registered lobbyist.

In February 1999 Christie joined his longtime friend and still close political advisor Bill Palatucci as a registered lobbyist in the state of New Jersey. Christie filed reports with New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission as a legislative agent through 1999 into 2001 when he sent a notice of termination in September of 2001 thereby removing his status as a registered legislative agent. Palatucci would remain a registered lobbyist after that time.

Christie and Palatucci were the registered legislative agents for various business and political interests that would become major players and supporters when Christie became governor. Some of their clients would become fixtures in the headlines associated with corruption, others key allies in promoting Governor Christie’s legislative agenda.

The Bernie Madoff Connection

According to the book Double Down one of the reasons Mitt Romney and team were hesitant to take further action to recruit Chris Christie as their nominee for Vice President of the United States were unsettling facts concerning Christie’s lobbying career in relation to infamous convicted ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.

Cory Booker’s Tall Tales Getting Him Into Trouble

Cross-posted on Firedoglake

Hey, a politician exaggerated about something. Surprised? Probably not. And that is more or less par for the course. We expect politicians to bullshit us, at least a little bit. Reality can be so disappointing or just monotonous – a little spice in a story from a public official can get people interested in an issue and that’s not so bad, right? Well, Cory Booker may be proving there is a considerable downside to serial fabrication.

It all started with “T-Bone”, a story Booker told about a drug dealer who first threatened Booker’s life only to later breakdown crying and ask Booker for help in turning his own life around. The problem? By all accounts there is no T-Bone. No steak name-sake exists.

… Newark historian Clement Price, who said the mayor confessed to him that T-Bone was a tall tale. In an interview with The Star-Ledger Thursday, Price again said Booker’s story was made-up. “Cory realized that he had erred,” Price said of his 2008 conversation with the mayor. “He told me that my criticism of his invention of T-Bone made perfect sense to him and he had made a mistake.”

Cory Booker Took ‘Confidential’ Payouts From Firm While In Office

Promoted by Rosi. Cross-posted on FireDogLake

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has gotten himself in some hot water on the eve of a primary election. The New York Post reveals that Booker took confidential payouts while in office from a law firm that received work from the city. The law firm paid Mayor Booker every year and received more than a total of $2 million in legal fees from the city of Newark and related agencies.

Cory Booker pocketed “confidential” annual payouts from his former law firm while serving as Newark mayor.

Booker, the front-runner in New Jersey’s Senate race, received five checks from the Trenk DiPasquale law firm from 2007 until 2011. During that time, the firm raked in more than $2 million in fees from local agencies over which Booker has influence.

Chris Christie’s Boondoggle

 photo Revel_Atlantic_City_from_boardwalk_zps01e4de4b.jpg

Promoted by Rosi.

Cross-posted from FireDogLake

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received the endorsement of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) many in the media and national political circles just took it as further evidence of Christie’s bi-partisan appeal. A politician so popular even unions would endorse him. But they were missing the story. LIUNA’s endorsement was actually due to one of New Jersey’s biggest boondoogles, the now named Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City which has cost the taxpayers millions.

While the Christie campaign spun the endorsement as a validation of Christie’s record on helping the private sector, LIUNA leadership had no trouble noting the publicly funded quid pro quo.

[LIUNA Leader Ray] Pocino cited the GOP governor’s accomplishments, including his signing the Higher Education Bond act, which he said will lead to more than $1 billion in construction, including new classrooms and labs; authorization of the Transportation Trust Fund for roads and bridges improvement totaling an estimated $5 billion, and his support for the Revel Casino project and the Bayonne Bridge.

It also probably didn’t hurt that Christie appointed Pocino to a seat on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Revel has been, to put it lightly, a disaster. Originally imagined as more of a resort than a casino, Revel cost $2.4 billion to open. Even before Revel opened it was considered a high risk investment in a city already on the decline due to gambling competition from Delaware and Pennsylvania. Progressives opposed state investments in the project which came during the same time Governor Christie was cutting education and healthcare services for women. Christie invested $261 million of New Jersey tax money via credits as Morgan Stanley backed out of Revel fearing it was a loser.

East Orange Mayor Says Sex In Government Office and Campaign Finance Violations Are A Private Issue

promoted by Rosi

Cross-Posted On FireDogLake

Embattled East Orange New Jersey Mayor Robert Bowser has an interesting theory. In a press conference on Friday Mayor Bowser told reporters that his admission of a sexual affair with a subordinate in a sexual harassment deposition is a private issue and belongs between him and his wife. The mayor read a prepared statement and refused to answer any questions as a spokesman referred reporters to a written form of the statement the mayor gave and the contact information for the mayor’s lawyer.

But is this a reasonable assertion?

According to The Star-Ledger, which obtained a copy of the sealed sexual harassment deposition, the affair was between the mayor and a subordinate city employee and sex acts occurred inside the mayor’s office on government time.

According to the deposition obtained by The Star-Ledger, Corletta Hicks, Bowser’s former research assistant, gave him oral sex on multiple occasions, including in his city hall office, while she was working for him…

The mayor previously denied having a relationship with Hicks while she worked for him in city hall, maintaining they had “no personal relationship throughout her tenure in my office.”

The mayor also disclosed payments were made after each sexual encounter and that Ms. Hicks at one point resisted his sexual advances.

In the Jan. 3 deposition, Bowser, 77, admitted the affair started roughly four months into Hicks’ tenure and lasted until late 2010. He said he would give her money after the encounters, estimating he paid her roughly $3,000…

Bowser initially denied that he sexually harassed Hicks but admitted in the deposition that Hicks resisted his sexual advances on one occasion, according to the document.

Furthermore the mayor used money from his campaign fund to buy gifts for Hicks’ child according to the deposition.

According to the documents, Bowser wrote a $400 check to Erika Prince, the daughter of his former research assistant Corletta Hicks, who in 2011 filed a discrimination suit against the mayor which included claims of sexual harassment.

Bowser said the money was for a “book scholarship” for Prince “at the time she was taking some courses,” he said in the document, a copy of which was obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Bowser acknowledged in the deposition that the gift had nothing to do with his campaign. According to the Election Law Enforcement Commission, personal use of campaign funds could result in fines of up to $7,600 per violation and, in some cases, could become a criminal matter.

Is it really a private issue between spouses when one of the spouses violates campaign finance law to give gifts to his mistress’ child and engages in sexual activity inside his government office when he is supposed to be working for the taxpayers? Tough sell.

(more after the jump)

Sandy In Your Eye: Global Insurers Call BS On Climate Deniers

By Blue Jersey alum DSWright and cross-posted from Daily Kos.

Promoted by Rosi

I live in South Jersey, so yeah, Sandy is about to make my life uh interesting.

So before the power/interweb goes out let me reiterate a point that is not made often enough in the climate change debate – Big Business is not united in their denialism.

One sector that is particularly immune to fossil fuel propaganda is the global insurance and reinsurance industry – because unlike consumers or politicians they are on the hook when the reality of Climate Change strikes.

Take for example Munich Re cited in a wonderful article from the New Yorker: Watching Sandy, Ignoring Climate Change

A couple of weeks ago, Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms, issued a study titled “Severe Weather in North America.” According to the press release that accompanied the report, “Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” The number of what Munich Re refers to as “weather-related loss events,” and what the rest of us would probably call weather-related disasters, has quintupled over the last three decades. While many factors have contributed to this trend, including an increase in the number of people living in flood-prone areas, the report identified global warming as one of the major culprits: “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Munich Re’s report was aimed at the firm’s clients-other insurance companies-and does not make compelling reading for a general audience. But its appearance just two weeks ahead of Hurricane Sandy seems to lend it a peculiarly grisly relevance. Sandy has been called a “superstorm,” a “Frankenstorm,” a “freakish and unprecedented monster,” and possibly “unique in the annals of American weather history.” It has already killed sixty-five people in the Caribbean, and, although it’s too early to tell what its full impact will be as it churns up the East Coast, loss estimates are topping six billion dollars.

That’s right folks. The world’s largest and well established insurance companies are not only not in denial, they are pricing and operating with Climate Change firmly in mind. And their expertise seems to be yielding an accurate analysis. Which is important to them because their fortunes are at stake.

Well time to go shudder the windows, make sure I have food and batteries in place, because the warmer water caused by Climate Change means Southern New Jersey is going to face sustained 50-70 mph winds tonight and into tomorrow as well as billions of dollars in damages on the shore and energy infrastructure.

Not to mention one of the country’s oldest nuclear power plants is here.

What could go wrong?

Maybe I’ll have enough light to read Senator Inhofe’s award winning book about it all being a hoax.

Then again, maybe not.

Kicking Away The Ladder: Amodeo Collects Unemployment, Votes Against Unemployment Benefits


John Amodeo is having a rough campaign. First he fibbed (is that nicer than saying he lied?) about his fellow candidate not receiving no-bid contracts. Then he falsely claimed Governor Christie had increased property tax rebates.

Now it is revealed that Amodeo collected $10,000 in unemployment insurance then voted against job training programs for the unemployed and refused to vote for lowering unemployment tax rates for businesses.

This is even more unnerving because the same year Amodeo collected the $10,000 of unemployment he and his wife reported an income of over $128,000.

To be clear, I have no problem with Amodeo collecting unemployment or anyone else who needs it, that’s why it’s there. And the fact that he collected it while being in a high income household – median household income in New Jersey is around $68,000 – is fine as well.

But to collect unemployment then vote against and fail to support aid to other people on the program, most of whom are not in the high income bracket…

That’s kicking away the ladder after people below you held it steady while you climbed up.

Not the kind of behavior most people look for in a representative.

Moran Doubles Down on Support for Christie’s Agenda

Yesterday, Tom Moran, Editorial Page Editor for the Star Ledger, responded to a post noting his statement that he supported the bulk of Christie’s agenda.

Tom Moran here.

No, I am not for union busting, for the record. I do think teachers should pay for health care, that cops shouldn’t take home $100,000 in unused sick time, that when we offer such generous deals, the cost lands prmarily on middle-class property tax payers.

I also do not think the alterantive, raising state taxes by $120 billion over the next 30 years, was feasible.

So if we didn’t contain these costs, we would have to shrink government far more drastically than we have. We’d lose more teachers and cops, and we’d have no money to do progressive things, from expanded preschool to subsidies for green energy.

To me, that’s crazy. And I draw a distinction between state workers, who are not overpaid, and whose union, the CWA, has made reasonable concessions. The problem is the overly generous deal that cops, firefightes and teachers had. I don’t like cutting those benefits, but give me a better solution.

Calling that union busting is just silly, a shrill lattempt to polish left credentials. And boycotting the Ledger becuase I have the nerve to present these views is, to me, a temper tantrum that makes as much sense as the tea party.

When I say bulks of Christie’s agenda, I mean the biig stuff: the pension and health reforms, and most of the education reform stuff, which is also shared by President Obama and Cory Booker.

If I am the demon on the right for this blog, then you are speaking to very tiny slice of America, and making yourselves irrelevant.

But feel free to disagree with me! This America, and I will still stop in and read the site.

In other words, Moran confirmed that he supported exactly what he was being accused of supporting. He clearly does not want his position to be known as union busting because that is negative and the CWA twitter account retweeted the story, which includes a call for a boycott, three times in one day. Any members seeing the tweets would probably consider saving their Ledger money to pay for their increased health care costs that Moran supported/supports.

Since he was kind enough to come on Blue Jersey, I will give Tom Moran the benefit of the doubt and submit he may not know he supports union busting. But in any case, he does.

As was pointed out in Blue Jersey’s Ed Reform 101 Series, Christie’s agenda on the “education reform stuff” is absolutely designed to weaken labor rights and in many cases get rid of a unionized workforce – also called union busting. That’s why (wait for it) Christie has been attacking the teachers union with Moran’s apparent encouragement.

This led to one of Blue Jersey’s writers to respond to Moran this way:

I hoped to make clear that, if anything, Mr. Moran may in fact support the hyperbolic “union busting” in numerous substantive ways which he simply does not perceive, in total, as an attack on the rights of workers. I’ve already asked elsewhere on this thread for a review of Moran’s epistemology on the bucket issue of education reform. I’d like to know what informs his decision to support it. Knowing that will help all of us understand how his perception of the general issue does or does not include the important labor rights issues which are inextricably braided to the conversation. “I know that reform detractors say X, but here is why I think they are wrong and here is the evidence I used to draw my conclusions.”

So yeah, Tom can say he doesn’t support “union busting,” but if we want to favor clarity and substance over hyperbole and catch phrases, the proof is very much in the pudding, whether he realizes it or not.  

That hits the point on the nose. Just because Moran does not see himself as a union buster, merely as someone who supports Christie’s Agenda, does not mean he is not one or is not supporting policies that will lead to the weakening and busting of unions.

As for the future, Jazzman has asked some great questions that Moran should answer if he wants to let people know more about his positions.

Moran Disclosure: “Supports The Bulk Of Christie’s Agenda”

A few people were quite irritated by my earlier suggestion that Tom Moran, Editorial Page Editor of the Star Ledger, favored union busting citing a lack of compelling evidence for the charge. Others have indeed stopped buying the paper (not much of a loss in any case). As you can see the piece includes a video where Moran encourages Christie to “go after” the teachers unions. Christie’s position on teachers unions is quite clear, he wants to break them.

Subsequently, I pointed out that a person who is in a union (public or private) or supports people who are, should not buy the Star Ledger and subsidize a publication that promotes their, or their friends and loved ones, disenfranchisement. A boycott in effect – simple, peaceful, well within everyone’s rights.

Today, Tom Moran in a column about Christie’s possible presidential run said the following:

Full disclosure: The man hates my guts for saying this kind of thing, despite my support for the bulk of his agenda.

Allow me to tread carefully to try and prevent irritation before saying I’ve been proved right and merely ask – What is the bulk of Christie’s Agenda?

Let’s look at some of the headlines from the site:

* Christie’s pattern of quid pro quo – what else is he planning?

* NJ’s precarious environmental situation

* NJ’s RGGI Pullout: the Latest Christie-Koch Wink-Nod?

* Screwing women (figuratively) to pay for an ill advised p!$$!ng match

* Payback, Christie Style

* Transparent political opportunist, not an ideologue

* Does Christie know or care how to govern?

And there’s more.

Unless there is some other agenda Christie has? … Does Tom Moran read his own paper?

Tom Moran is wrong and should not be supported with working people’s hard earned (and stagnant) wages – Boycott the Ledger.

The Crackdown: “Occupy Wall Street” Protesters Face Arrest, Use Of Force

Somewhat contrary to our initial report on this, while some just stayed through the weekend of the 17th, others have tried to make the “Occupy Wall Street” protests into an actual occupation. The protesters have camped out in what they have called Liberty Plaza aka Zuccotti Park (which apparently was at one point called Liberty Plaza Park) indefinitely.


(Protesters in Zuccotti Park, September 2011)

The occupation started on Saturday, September 17th and as the days went by the protests peacefully continued. The protesters slept in the park and people from around the world ordered them pizza. One enterprising (if that’s not a dirty word) local pizzeria, Liberatos, even created a special pizza for the occasion The OccuPie: “a line of pepperoni across the middle, in the shape of a slash, intended to represent protester anger.” Tastes like freedom (and pizza)!

So it went. From the Saturday the 17th up until last Saturday the 24th. The protesters camped out, ate their pizza, and spent the day highlighting the issues they cared about  – which at one point was the execution of Troy Davis. No property destruction or violence was reported. No harm, no foul right?


(Protester and dog catch a nap, “Stay Clear of the Plants” sign in background)

Well it seems after a week of “occupation” the New York Police Department or rather their superiors, had had enough. Starting Saturday the 24th, a severe crackdown on the protests started.


(Police began a crackdown on protesters starting Saturday)

What was once a rather calm scene turned increasingly chaotic as police used force to breakup protests, including the deployment of non-lethal chemical weapons.

(Peaceful Protesters Sprayed With Irritant By Police)

(more after the jump)