Tag Archive: Karl Rove

Not Ready for Hillary… or Bernie… or Martin…

While the media frenzy for the 2016 presidential election is already in full swing, there’s an election this year that arguably has more impact on New Jersey citizens. For the first time since 1999, the statewide races for the General Assembly are at the top of the ballot.

Most pundits predict little or no change in the balance of power in that chamber. The districts are gerrymandered to protect incumbents who already have a leg up on any opposition. Democrats are sure to retain control of the Assembly, aren’t they?

Thank You, Governor Christie

Dear Governor Christie,

Thank you for your efforts in providing relief and comfort to the citizens of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’m glad you did your job. You are receiving a lot of well-deserved praise from the press on your performance. After all, the bar was set pretty low by your patron, George W Bush in Katrina, and by yourself and your Lieutenant Governor when you were both out of the state during a major snowstorm here – leaving the relief efforts to the Senate President. So while your response to Sandy is appreciated, it is what we would expect from any governor.

It was comforting and reassuring to New Jerseyans to see you walk hand in hand with President Obama to provide solace to those touched by this tragedy. This was a welcome change from your disdain for teachers, union workers, and women’s health. Perhaps this is because Hurricane Sandy knew no class distinction. On Long Beach Island, she destroyed multimillion dollar homes in Harvey Cedars as well as trailer homes in Holgate. I only wish you had the same equality of compassion in times other than those imposed upon us by Mother Nature.

You and the President showed how governing used to be, and how it should be. You toned down your rhetoric (although Mayor Langford might disagree) and put the people before politics. You took the risk of angering your base by realizing and embracing the fact that there is a role for big government – whether it is in FEMA and the military in providing the type of assistance that cash-strapped states can’t, or in the Army Corps of Engineers repairing the beaches.

There’s a saying that “all politics is local” and whether your decision to cooperate with the President was motivated by politics or by compassion doesn’t matter. You are handling this crisis well, and we all thank you for that. Hopefully, this will be a learning moment for you and that you realize that whether or not we voted for you, you are the governor of all New Jerseyans. You are my governor. I hope the lesson of Sandy is carried forward and that you continue in the spirit of cooperation to work with those who support clean air and water, those who advocate for women’s health, those who promote marriage as a way any two adults can commit to each other, and those who rely on the public infrastructure. After all, you work for us, not the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove.

With appreciation,


Karl Rove in New Jersey

On Monday night, I sat in the overflow room at Rider University watching the man that is responsible for bringing us 8 years of George W. Bush, Karl Rove.  As a Democrat, I cannot stand the guy but did hear what he had to say.  And yes I did go into the event knowing that I was severely outnumbered, and thankful that I was not in the main room, but instead the overflow room.

With the exception of telling us how New Jersey broke his heart by voting for Kerry in 2004, he did not talk much about the Garden State, but instead mostly focused on the 2012 presidential election and the future of his party.  I for one found it very interesting to hear (and now know) the other side’s strategy.  He also spoke of three major events that will influence the outcome of the presidency this year— the Wisconsin special election in the Scott Walker recall, the Supreme Court’s decision (and the President’s response) to health care, and Iran.  

When asked about Citizens United, Rove (obviously a supporter because of his Crossroads SuperPAC) went on a rant about how unions, environmental groups, etc have been running ads on behalf of Democrats for years and it levels the playing field (funny how he conveniently left out groups like the NRA that traditionally support Republicans).  I wish I knew how to use the video feature on my new phone because what I witnessed was messaging at its finest (a skill in which Democrats traditionally lack).  

Given concerns about how Republicans are quickly becoming a party of older, white men, he was asked about the future of his party and how they can continue to be successful.  He said that they need to start running candidates that are not 72-year-old white men (as they ran in 2008) and run diverse candidates in order to appeal to those demographics, later saying that in a diverse state like Texas, the GOP holds all 28 elected statewide offices.  

I do apologize for being a day late in this writeup, but I think it was a healthy experience for me to see the spin master in action and a good introduction to opposition research for me.  Even though I was fuming at some of his responses on the inside, I did not let it show at all.  While there are a lot of questions that I would have liked to ask the man, I was polite and did not ask one myself (they had to be asked in writing and were selected by moderators).  

Karl Rove tonight at Rebovich Institute

Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s disastrous and disreputable presidency, is the speaker tonight at the excellent speakers series at Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, Rider University. Rove is also now a Fox News contributor, and columnist at Wall Street Journal. Neither of those items should be at all surprising.

“An Evening with Karl Rove” will be in the Bart Luedeke Center (Student Center) on Rider’s Lawrenceville Campus (map and parking). Speech, followed by a Q & A period (fun!) will begin 7pm (doors open 6pm), seating first-come, first-served. Overflow seating in a room adjacent to the theater where Rove will be speaking, where the speech will be simulcast.

Have any doubt Karl Rove is still relevant?

Well, for one thing, we’re still paying in lives and treasure for Bush’s chickenhawk wars (inherited for better or worse by his successor Barack). But more directly, in our wheelhouse, is Rove’s relationship with Christie and Christie’s use of his non-political federal office as US Attorney stinks of partisan politics in service of the GOP, the wholly inappropriate political relationship Karl Rove maintained  in Christie’s rise (and how those folks made use of their power). Christie owes a great deal to Karl Rove; the degree to which people like Rove own Christie may define Christie’s rise outta Jersey and into the White House, if not this year then maybe next time around.

Looking for more evidence of Rove’s relevance? Just last week, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz sent out a fundraising email referencing Karl Rove. Santorum ad. Schultz’ email links to a GOP subliminal message ad that quickly flashes a photo of Obama with the words “sworn American enemy” (meant to confuse you that Obama is like Iran’s Ahmadinejad). And connecting it by reference to the Rove-era Bush campaign’s “RATS ad”, in which RATS was briefly superimposed with Al Gore’s picture.

Rove, still a Democratic boogeyman. At Rebovich, Rider U.  Wish I could go, but I can’t. You going?  

Chris Christie and the White House

As a blogger, I’ve joined many of my colleagues in speculating about Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions. Unlike many in the Republican field, Christie is smart enough to know that you don’t just declare yourself as a candidate and go out and give stump speeches. That may work for elections to town council, but becoming the Leader of the Free (?) World requires a little more finesse and planning.

I’ve speculated that there are three signs that would indicate Christie’s readiness to throw his hat into the presidential ring. Not this time around, but in 2016 when the nation is ready to switch parties after eight years of Barack Obama.

The first is weight loss. Like it or not, this is an issue that should not be. But reality says that some voters value appearance more than positions. Dieting to lose weight is difficult, but so is being president. Christie is working on his weight, has a personal trainer, and if his determination is as big as his ego, he will succeed in slimming down over the next four years.

You Reap What You Sow

Tom Moran has a column in today’s NJ.com that provides an account of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s ire after Governor Christie vetoed scores of programs that would have created jobs and helped the poor and middle class. Sweeney’s anger is puzzling.

Like nearly every Republican who touts “bipartisanship”, Christie is a BiNO – bipartisan in name only. And Sweeney should have known this.

When you have a party like the GOP that is willing to wreck the economy for the sake of their political benefactors, you have to recognize that real compromise is not in their vocabulary.

It is hard to believe that Sweeney considers Christie as a partner instead of an adversary as far as working people of New Jersey are concerned. Maybe Sweeney had a gentleman’s agreement with Christie, but Sweeney knows that Christie is one of the former US prosecutors who was not fired by Bush’s capo, Karl Rove, during Rove’s reign of unethical political terror. Anyone with a heartbeat should realize that this alone taints Christie with a dubious ethical record.

The only thing Sweeney accomplished last week was to advance Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions.

So the question remains. As the highest ranking elected Democratic official in New Jersey, is Sweeney over his head in dealing with a very clever governor? Or is Sweeny simply a GOP mole who is in Trenton to advance the Christie/Norcross axis of greed? Either way, Sweeney must be stripped of his leadership position and return the Democratic Party to real Democrats.

On a final note, Moran’s article quotes Sweeney as calling the governor a “rotten prick.” This type of language is uncalled for. Sweeney should immediately apologize to rotten pricks everywhere.

The $25-from-every-New-Jerseyan-for-Xanadu bill and what else to watch for this week

Are you ready to give $25 from your pocket to Xanadu ($100 for a family of four)?

That is one of several important questions to be decided this week in Trenton, each of which we’d be seriously fixated on if not for the undoubtedly even more important anti-union armageddon currently unfolding. Still, these things are worth keeping an eye on because they all have a huge impact. Here are the top five, in no particular order:

1. Will thousands of working families be kicked off of Medicaid? Gov. Christie (R-Rove) has decreed that working families earning more than $6,000 a year should be dropped from Medicaid. Thus creating new incentives to go from work to welfare. Will the Democrats stand up and try to block this change (not clear from the reporting exactly how much power the Legislature has, but at the least they could pass a resolution telling the Obama Administration to reject the waivers needed)?

2. Will we have to pay $25 each to bail out Xanadu? Sens. Ray Lesniak (D-Progressive Social Causes and Crony Capitalism) and Kevin O’Toole (R-Tool) have introduced a bill to expand the ability of the Christie Administration to give away our money to large developers to include the Meadowlands. If you have driven the Turnpike recently, you may be aware that the Meadowlands includes a large eyesore called Xanadu which has been a total failure. Apparently the solution to this problem is for everyone in the state to pay $25 (that is $200 million divided by the 8 million people in NJ) to a large Canadian developer in order to get the mall ready for opening. I have two questions: could those of us below I-195 at least have the option of giving the money to a more local mall that is not 100 miles away, or perhaps have it go to the casinos and at least get $25 in chips back? And if this expert is right that even with $200 million of our tax money the project only has a 50-50 chance of success (after all four prior owners have failed), do we get double our money back if it fails again? Seriously, is this really something that the Democrats are going to support instead of using to bash Christie?

3. Does the Open Public Records Act still exist? First Gov. Christie refuses to let us know who is on the helicopter with him. Then he claims executive privilege for e-mails with Roger Ailes. Did OPRA get repealed while we weren’t looking? And is anyone going to hold him accountable?

4. Women’s health: what happens next? Planned Parenthood, our own Sen. Weinberg (D – Actually a D), and many others have been running probably the best progressive campaign of the year against Christie’s deeply unpopular cuts in women’s health. What happens next? Do the Dems take it up a notch? Like hold Xanadu, which costs over 20 times as much, hostage? Now, you may say: those are the kind of techniques that Republicans use, not Democrats. Which brings us to the next and final point…

5. Will the Democrats reverse all of their progress in making Chris Christie unpopular? For a while, Senate President Sweeney (D-Sorry About that Marriage Thing) and Speaker Oliver (D-What Happened to that Awesome State Convention Speech?) were on a roll – and Christie was having bad week after bad week – jobs numbers, helicopters, women’s health – and looked more arrogant than strong. Now, Christie is going to have a new round of bragging rights from overcoming the unions’ power. Christie this week looks more strong than arrogant. Are there any other tricks up leadership’s sleeve to help boost Christie’s sagging poll numbers?

It is going to be an interesting week with a lot at stake for our state’s future. And please post additions to this list if I missed something.

Chris Christie Robo-calls: Following Karl Rove Again, to the Wrong Side in NY-26

Right now, it’s Bill Clinton vs. Chris Christie for practically anybody with a telephone in upstate western New York State, where the NY-26 special election race between GOP’s Jane Corwin and Democrat Kathy Hochul is boiling hot and may be a signal to Republicans, like all of NJ’s GOP delegation, that they’ve gone too far. I wonder just what time this weekend Karl Rove placed a panic call to Chris Christie to help bail out his candidate.

Once again, Christie is following Rove’s lead. American Crossroads, the beefy GOP money group Karl Rove started has been pouring cash into Jane Corwin’s flagging campaign, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups. Few weeks ago, Corwin looked like a lock. But that was before widespread voter backlash to the GOP plan to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher system proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, a plan even Newt Gingrich called right-wing social engineering.

All of New Jersey’s Republicans – LoBiondo, Garrett, Runyan, Smith, Frelinghuysen, Lance – voted to end Medicare. But the earliest any of them might have to pay for that vote is 2012. The NY-26 special election is tomorrow, and there are a lot of nervous Republicans in America right now.  

Christie, and NJ’s Republicans like my own congressman Lance, had better worry. New polling shows Kathy Hochul, longshot a few days ago, surging ahead of Corwin by 6 points.

Text of Christie’s robo-call to NY, after the jump.

Did Christie use Dwek to get himself off “Rove’s list”?

We found out earlier this week that Michele Brown wanted Chris Christie to be given the credit for the political busts that resulted from molding Solomon Dwek from “money launderer and Ponzi schemer” to briber-of-Democratic officials.  And with the clamoring to take credit comes the responsibility of answering the tough questions that creep up when you are dealing with one real shady criminal like Dwek is.

Two articles that were recently posted at NJ.com show just how much Dwek ripped off from so many people:

A Star-Ledger examination of court documents shows that before Dwek became an informer for the FBI, he was running a wild Ponzi operation in which one investment was being used to pay off the debt mounting from the last one and on into the millions in the same kind of geometry that eventually exposed financier Bernard Madoff.


Dwek admitted that he schemed with mortgage broker Joseph Kohen, 39, of Deal, to defraud PNC Bank of more than $50 million and launder $22.8 million of the proceeds through other banks.

So far, there are 120 lawsuits with respect to his crimes, and that number may very well grow over time as more comes out.

Back in July, when the story first broke, it was reported that Dwek was not originally involved in anything other than money laundering and bank fraud – certainly nothing to do with any politicians:

The case began with bank fraud charges against a member of an insular Syrian Jewish enclave centered in a seaside town. But when that man became a federal informant and posed as a crooked real estate developer offering cash bribes to obtain government approvals, it mushroomed into a political scandal that could rival any of the most explosive and sleazy episodes in New Jersey’s recent past.

And yesterday, I wrote about the very interesting set of “coincidences” between Dwek and Chris Christie, including the $500 donation that Dwek made to the Bush campaign through Christie.

For someone who prided himself and made his name on cleaning up crime and busting people who defraud others, there is a very serious question regarding Chris Christie and how Solomon Dwek was treated.  Here is someone who (1) as far as we know had NO prior dealings with political officials before he was busted for very serious financial crimes, (2) has a financial connection to Christie through a donation to Bush in 2000, (3) was busted around the same time that he spoke to Rove about his future in politics, and around the same time as the lists were being created to see which US Attorneys were to be fired and (4) suddenly, Dwek went from a money launderer and Ponzi schemer to someone being used as an informant to bust Democratic officials.

Now, if any Democratic official was dumb enough to take a bribe and got busted, that is his/her own fault.  But there is a very important question that needs to be answered – and that is why Christie went easy on someone who defrauded so many individuals and institutions for tens of millions of dollars and turned him into a “cooperating witness” for what appears to be largely unrelated political bribery.

What does Arlen Specter know about the U.S. Attorneys Scandal?

It’s been more than two years since we asked “how did Chris Christie get off the list?” We knew even then that United States Attorneys who resisted the politicization of their jobs were fired, and that “somehow” Chris Christie avoided being fired. The problem is that everyone involved was a Republican, so it’s been a struggle to get the truth. Sure, eventually Karl Rove testified before Congress, and admitted that he talked with Christie about running for Governor, a probable Hatch Act violation, but there are still lots of holes in our knowledge of what happened.

Another thing we learned years ago was that the entire scheme was made possible by Senator Arlen Specter, who quietly changed the law allowing US Attorneys to be replaced.  Without this change, President Bush could have threatened to fire Christie and the other USA’s, but he would not have been able to easily replace them with political hacks. Apparently, Specter inserted the changes to benefit Bush and the Republican party–and after all, it’s easy to guess at his motives since Bush and Rove saved in him in his 2004 primary contest, and Republican control of the Senate rested on the upcoming 2006 elections.  

But now it’s 2009, and suddenly our old neighbor, Arlen Specter, is a Democrat, and he claims has different political loyalties. He needs to tell us about the firing of the U.S. Attorneys and what he was told about it by the Bush Administration. Why did he think the changes he pushed through were desirable? What did the Justice Department tell him? Was the “need” to fire anyone specific mentioned?  From my side of the river, I’d like to know if any US Attorneys were specifically mentioned to him.  Say, Chris Christie? Or was Bob Menendez’s upcoming election in New Jersey mentioned? Democrat Arlen Specter needs to come forward with what he knows.