Tag Archive: Bridgegate

David Wildstein’s New Alter Ego?


Check out the comments section here.  A commentor named after a long dead WWII hero celebrated here in NJ with yearly parades, has appeared to have risen from the dead like Wally Edge to comment on how wonderful the Port Authority is and how wise in their judgement to favor a Wolff & Samson client over everyone else.

He appears to hate me quite a bit more than I usually get from trolls and he over-explains a lot about how the Hoboken study was just awesome.

I’m guessing he’s angling for a job with Samson when he’s out of jail on his immunity plea and well, he’s a blogger who just can’t help diving into the muck again. But he needed a new alias to do it.  Feeling under seige from his foxhole and maybe hoping to work for The “General” he may have chosen a WWII hero named John Basilone to hide behind as he takes shots at me, Dawn Zimmer, and the Record reporters. Of course I could be mistaken and this could be just a coincidence that he is named after a dead WWII hero  celebrated here in NJ and he happens to think the Port Authority is swell. Your thoughts?

Christie poll numbers see 19-point drop, with unfavorable rating now nearly matching favorable

High marks for Christie, left over from enormous public good will for his post-Sandy performance and continuing through his landslide re-elections, may be evaporating as waves of scandals hit the governor and his close allies.

Via Rutgers Eagleton poll:

“Following more than a year of strong bipartisan support, Christie’s favorability rating is now 46 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable, down from 65 percent favorable just before his landslide re-election. This drop in support is led by a 26-point decline among Democrats.”

Wow. Christie’s 2016 hopes are pinned on the viability of his story of “bipartisan” support. A 26-point drop among Dems makes it hard to sell that right now. Anywhere. And particularly with Christie’s multi-troubles leading the news night after night, with no end in sight. And there’s this:

“Whether or not they think Christie is telling the truth, New Jerseyans overwhelmingly blame Christie’s “tough-guy” persona for the conduct of his staff: more than 70 percent say the Governor’s attitude contributed at least somewhat to his staff’s reported behavior.  Even six in ten Republicans believe Christie’s demeanor has at least somewhat encouraged these events.”

And this has always been the risk of Christie’s massive, skilled (and largely taxpayer-funded) propaganda machine that has helped launch the public perception of him as ultra-confident, direct political-celebrity. The risk? That the real guy beneath the skilled branding would go too far, do too much damage. Or be found out.

Polls are just snapshots of the public mood in a brief span of time. We’ll have to see if this trend continues.

Bridget Kelly loses her lawyer: Is the “loyal team player” about to turn on Christie?

UPDATE: Kelly has a new lawyer.

On Friday, former Christie Deputy COS Bridget Kelly got a subpoena from Wisniewski’s investigative committee. It went to her attorney, Walter Timpone. Who’s Walter Timpone? He’s a well-connected Morris County attorney at one of the largest firms in the state, McElroy Deutsch. That firm is closely tied to the Christie administration; managing partner Edward B. Deutsch was on Christie’s transition team, and on his “Red Tape Commission” (chaired by Guadagno). Christie appointed Kelly’s attorney, Timpone, to a spot on the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commmission (ELEC) in 2010. And Timpone was another of the federal prosecutors who served under Christie who he has positioned in key political roles.

In other words, Bridget Kelly’s lawyer was “in the family.” The Christie orbit.

A few days ago, the Times ran a piece suggesting that Kelly, called a “liar” by Christie and fired impersonally by email, was not only devastated by the loss to her own reputation, but also distraught over how her actions had damaged Christie. Her friends, sources for the piece, called her devoted and loyal to Christie, even after he threw her under the bus to distance himself from his crisis.

But that was before. We don’t know what happened between Kelly and her legal muscle; who dumped who. Maybe Kelly was dissatisfied with one of the best lawyers in New Jersey. But it seems as likely, given Timpone’s ties to Christie, that the loyalist is now ready to turn on her old boss. That if she’s no longer Team Christie, she doesn’t get a Team Christie lawyer.

Timpone confirms he’s no longer representing Kelly. But he says the reason is that he’s an “elected commissioner” – presumably of ELEC – which he calls a “conflict of interest”. But wasn’t he a commissioner when he took her case?

He is a lawyer and former colleague tied to Christie. She is the humiliated former Deputy who knows what really happened on the GWB.

What if the conflict of interest is something else?

NJ State of Emergency (and it’s not the snow)

Cross-posted at A New Jersey Farmer

Chris Christie was inaugurated for his second term as Governor of New Jersey today. It’s also snowing quite a bit. That will make his downhill slide easier and the crash at the bottom more pronounced. He’s embroiled in two scandals, both of which will turn out to have been his own making, and he made a state of the state address last week that was so devoid of usable ideas, it’s probably DOA in a Democratic legislature that is in no mood to compromise with him over controversial issues.

The Bridge issue by itself could probably be chalked up to election year hi-jinx by a guy who doesn’t understand nuance and positive energy. Now we have another scandal that cuts even deeper and shows a pattern of behavior among Governor Christie’s appointees and running mate that could touch him. The results will not be pretty.

The story involves aid for Sandy storm victims, but is tied up in election year politics and the desire Christie had to win a huge, forty-point plus victory over Democrat Barbara Buono this past November.

His administration chose an ad agency to promote the shore using Sandy funds, which might be OK except that the agency it chose cost $2.2 million dollars more that the other bidder and promised to put Christie and his family in the ads. Not bad in an election year where about the only issue Christie could run on, because the economy was still in a shambles, was Sandy relief. That makes the Hoboken issue that much more relevant, because the city really could have used any or all of those millions to, let’s say, help people who were flooded out or needed assistance with programs that might help them get back on their feet. Instead, we get the first-ever Lieutenant Governor making threats against a Christie supporter, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, to help a political friend.

New Jersey is already an ethical sewer. Did Christie and Guadagno really have to flush at that moment?

Christie’s office did offer a rebuke to Mayor Zimmer, but never addressed the accusations against Guadagno and attacked MSNBC, the network that’s been the main mouthpiece for the story. That’s classic Christie and follows the larger Republican strategy when they’re challenged: discredit the opposition and call them names. Ouch.

But now Mayor Zimmer is talking with prosecutors at their request. Double ouch.

There will be more subpeonas and an occasional leak of juicy information and the result will be a prolonged period of stalemate where the governor wants to move beyond the scandals and the legislature wants to air every stitch of dirty laundry to lessen Christie’s influence.

As for policy, last week’s speech in Trenton wasn’t just a rehashing of his fight with teachers and other public unions: it was a renewed call to battle against them by proposing to take more of their income and break their power. The governor wants everyone else to contribute more for their pensions and health benefits, which would severely impact those middle class workers, while he works on a tax break for the wealthy and reneges on his promise to make full state pension payments.

That idea would be bad enough, but the real insight into Christie’s thinking is his not-even-half-baked proposal to lengthen the public school day and year. His lack of detail was stunning for such a high-profile pronouncement. Clearly, he’s going through the motions of checking off ideas from the conservative playbook in an effort to curry favor with the Republican right wing. Needless to say, reaction has not been positive, and for good reason.

First of all, where is the money coming from to install air conditioning and run electrical power for the rest of June and into July? Where is the money coming from to pay teachers past June 30? What will happen to shore businesses, camps, academic programs and enrichment activities that are a vital part of summer in New Jersey? Yes, the governor rightly said that the school calendar is outdated, but other industries have grown around it that are vital cogs in the economic and academic life of students and teachers. He hasn’t addressed that, and my guess is that he probably won’t. He’ll just spend time bashing teachers for not wanting to give up summer vacation, even though the summer is just another two months where most teachers need to find an income so they can eat or not lose their houses.

Chris Christie only knows one speed when it comes to doing his job, and it’s going to result in a crackup. A comeback is certainly possible, but the damage has been done.

For more please go to:

www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives and Twitter @rigrundfest  

GOP Strategy Tip: Undermine the Investigations Preemptively

promoted by Rosi

The casual observer who stumbled upon one of the series of partisan calls in the last 24 hours for Assemblyman Wisniewski to step down from leading the NJ Assembly’s Select Committee on Investigation could be forgiven for thinking the Wiz had done something wrong. But of course, there has been no indication of that.

Rather, the allegations arise entirely out of a closely timed full court press by Republican Assemblymen Scott Rumana, John Bramnick, and David Rible (among others), raising peculiarly similar, but unsupported, “concerns” about Wisniewski’s ability to conduct a fair investigation. The only apparent objection being that Wiz is a Democrat.

Perhaps the most ridiculous of the accusers is Rumana, who is  Senator Kevin O’Toole’s district-mate. Why?

That, and the rest, on the jump page.

David Samson and the ‘Master of Disaster’

David Samson’s name now turns up in unfolding scandals in the Christie administration on two fronts. He is the Port Authority Chairman who subpoenaed emails show blasted PA Ed Patrick Foye for outing the threats to public safety that Christie’s political operation engineered. Samson also turns up in allegations made by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer this weekend, who claims Sandy aid controlled by the governor was held hostage unless she approved a lucrative development project in the north end of the city. The private developer, Rockefeller Group, is represented by Samson’s law firm Wolff Samson.

Samson, a mystery figure of enormous power in the workings of the Port Authority, has now been subpoenaed. And Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle confirmed on TV this morning that Samson has retained Michael Chertoff.

When Chertoff was Director of Homeland Security for President George W. Bush, they called Chertoff the ‘Master of Disaster’.

Given all that’s going on, that sounds about right.  

Bridgegate: NJ Real Estate & Corruption

Cross posted at my column at The Epoch Times


Since I originally posted this, Steve Kornacki interviewed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and it appears that Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno may have shaken down Hoboken on behalf of David Samsons law firm in return for Sandy recovery funds.

One of the most intriguing theories advanced in Bridgegate by Steve Kornacki that seems most plausible to my political sources here in NJ has been the real estate angle.  That, as well as Port Authority Chairman David Samson’s possible role in the scandal and the utter silence of the Board of Commissioners.

Still a Whodunit

Currently the feeding frenzy centered around Chris Christie by the national media is viewed here as not helpful to the investigation.  Partisans from across the country are trying to make this about Chris Christie and 2016 when the clues have not led directly to him just yet.  

I have spoken to NJ Legislative staffers who have been swamped with phone calls from across the country with  conspiracy theories. This whodunit has brought everybody out of the woodwork.  We still need to see un-redacted documents and get testimony from lawyered up folks facing serious jail time to understand what happened.  I am constantly surprised by the layers of corruption in NJ. The Prosecutors here are sophisticated and sometimes corrupt themselves, and so the criminals have to be even more creative.  Fortunately, the legislators investigating this are quite familiar with NJ corruption and just how complicated things can get.

Rod Blagojevich Prosecutor Called in

A significant development in the investigation has been the addition of the investigator who helped convict Rod Blagojevich, the former Governor of Illinois.   I have written in the past about the similarities in the Blagojevich case and NJ.  Although he was most known for trying to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Blagojevich’s exploits often involved construction corruption. You have to read the charges to understand just why the prosecutors were so appalled at what he did while extorting real estate developers.

Checking in on Gov. Christie feelings today

It’s like OCD.

He can’t help it. Gov. Christie just can not stop talking about himself. Can’t help framing everything going on – the GWB scandal, the hundreds of thousands of people whose safety was risked, the people left out from his administration’s management of federal Sandy money – with the same vain, arrogant self-reference. It’s never about them. About the people he’s elected to serve. Shades of his 2-hour press conference all about his feelings. Sadness. Betrayed. Disappointed. Stages of grief. The self-absorption of a narcissist used to demanding attention,  and getting whatever he wants, unable to grasp that there are times he’s not actually the most important person. Unable to express stages of grief for the people put out by his administration’s malfeasance. And today’s affect is earnest.

Christie, today:

I was saying to my staff yesterday in the Sandy meeting, you know, come next Tuesday we’ve only got about 1,400 days to go as Governor, so we got plenty of time to get this job done, and we’re going to get it done, and a lot sooner than 1,400 days, but let me tell you: that is my focus. My focus is you all gave me a resounding vote of support on November 5th. You asked me, and I accepted, the task of leading this state for eight years, not four years, and no one I can assure you ever told me or anybody on my team that it was going to be easy. It hadn’t been up to this point, and there’s all kinds of challenges as you know that come every day out of nowhere to test you. But, I want to ensure the people of New Jersey of one thing: I was born here, I was raised here, I’m raising my family here, and this is where I intend to spend the rest of my life. And whatever test they put in front of me, I will meet those tests because I’m doing it on your behalf. So, thank you all very much for being here.

Way to sound presidential.


Christie lawyers up – who gets that bill?

Of course, they’re not calling it that. The Christie front office puts it like  this:

Today, the Christie Administration announced the retention of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to assist with the internal review announced by Governor Christie last week and to further cooperate with the U.S. Attorney inquiry. As part of the review process, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP will review best practices for office operations and information flow, and assist with document retention and production.

Yeah. That horse has already left the barn. We’re a little late in the game for determining “best practices” unless the Christie administration is willing to chase the idea that massive misuse of government power and resources for apparent gotcha politics, plus months of mockery and cover-up, are not “best practices”. But first they’d have to admit that’s what the now public (but still redacted) emails suggest they were doing.

But Christie’s still playing like the earnest outraged exec surrounded by lying pranksters. Like he wants to find out what happened as much as we do (even after months of displaying no curiosity about it whatsoever). The statement says Christie will conduct an internal review to uncover the facts surrounding the lane closures in Fort Lee. “Uncover the facts?” Looks to me like the administration has been busy covering up the facts since September. And no …