Tag Archive: Chris Christie

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Open Thread: What’s on your minds today, Blue Jersey?

Christie Subpoena Sparks Standoff

This morning, Josh Margolin and Ted Sherman of the Star Ledger report that U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has issued a “broad federal subpoena seeking internal memos, e-mails and other records that the Legislature generates each year when putting together the annual budget.”

The documents are at the heart of an inquiry by Christie that is focused on potential legislative conflicts, and specifically whether some elected officials steered money to nonprofit organizations or institutions that would have benefited themselves, friends or family, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.


The subpoena grew out of a criminal probe of Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), one of the Legislature’s most influential members and former chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee.

Basically, Christie issued a subpoena for budget-related documents at the Office of Legislative Services, the Senate and the Treasury Department. The controversy came because it extended to “any documents pertaining to conflicts of interest for lawmakers and staffers” — unrelated to Bryant.

The Ledger reporters go on to quote legal and legislative experts on the unusual scope of the subpoenas, and possible conflicts due to separation of powers.

[B]oth sides will appear before U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper in Trenton on Wednesday to argue whether the Legislature can be forced to turn over records it considers confidential.

Use It or Lose It 2008

With the announcements that neither Chris Christie or Mike Ferguson will challenge Senator Frank Lautenberg in 2008, the Republicans’ chances to take that seat are very weak. This is not because Christie or Ferguson are better candidates than Senator Lautenberg — they’re not (especially Ferguson, who knows he cannot win statewide). Rather, these were the two candidates with the ability to raise the kind of money that is required for a competitive statewide contest.

Think about it: a total of $35 million went into the 2006 race between Senator Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. Governor Corzine has spent tens of millions on his two statewide runs. The media markets are expensive and so is the field operation. Only certain people can raise this kind of money, and none of them are in this race.

Lautenberg has to be happy with this news. Just last month, Chuck Todd rated Lautenberg as the 10th most vulnerable incumbent Senator:

Despite Republicans’ dismal track record over the past 30 years, they never completely punt on Senate races here. But there’s a big difference between keeping a race technically “competitive” and actually winning.

Everyone thought Lautenberg would go into this race with an advantage, but who knew it’d be this big? The departures of Christie and Ferguson make his choice to seek re-election an even easier one. (Chuck Schumer basically confirmed that Lautenberg is running earlier this week.)

Still, others might find Lautenberg’s good fortune to be somewhat disappointing: Reps. Rob Andrews, Frank Pallone, Rush Holt, Steve Rothman, and Bill Pascrell. It’s not that they bear ill will toward their senior Senator, but they were hopeful he’d opt out of running again. They, like Menendez once did, have been building their warchests to best position themselves to move up to the Senate, and with Lautenberg’s re-election, they will likely ride the bench until 2014.

But our ambitious representatives should look on the bright side: their loss can be the House Democrats’ gain. If it becomes clear early on that their Republican challengers are merely nominal (as they were in 2006), the ‘Use It or Lose It’ campaign can be kicked into gear. In 2006, NJ candidates had less than three weeks to benefit from ‘Use It or Lose It’ — this time they can have more than three months. This will bolster candidates in New Jersey’s 7th, 5th, and 3rd districts. It will put Republicans on the defensive in a year they want to spend attacking Democratic freshman.

As with Republicans statewide, money is an extremely important qualification for Democratic candidates in these districts. In the 7th, Linda Stender lost by a point, so the DCCC and other national organizations will be back to help her. But for candidates in the 5th and 3rd where Democrats lost by 11 and 17 points, the DCCC will not be rushing to their aid. Early money from safe Democrats may be their best chance to succeed.

Luckily for them, Lautenberg is holding his seat down, and there should be plenty of money to go around. New Jersey’s Congressional Democrats should remember that they’ll have another 6 years to build their warchests, but only so much time to expand their caucus.

Chris Christie will NOT run against Lautenberg

Looks like Chris Christie will not run against Sen. Lautenberg in the next election.  NJ.com:

The U.S. attorney for New Jersey, a Republican long rumored to be a contender for U.S. Senate, said Monday he plans to stay in his current job into next year, effectively ruling out a 2008 campaign.  Christie, 44, is considered by some to be a possible GOP pick for governor, was tapped by President George W. Bush in 2001 to be NJ’s top federal prosecutor though he lacked criminal court experience. During the AP interview, Christie would not discuss a possible gubernatorial bid in 2009

“I have every intention of being here (in his job as prosecutor) through the end of ’07 and into early 2008,” Christie told The AP. “We’ll see what happens when ’08 starts.”

So folks, who do you all think the state GOP will run against the venerable Lautenberg?  And in a presidental election year, no less!  Does anyone have any theories or hunches about a possible republican candidate?  All ideas welcome.  Me? I’m vexed.  I really thought it was gonna be Christie.

US Attorney launches probe of UMDNJ

Following new allegations raised against UMDNJ, the US Attorney has decided to take a look.  According to the Courier Post…

A monitor’s report released today said UMDNJ has improperly paid $5.7 million in referrals to doctors since 2002 in order to attract patients to its struggling cardiac surgery unit in Newark.

I gotta be honest though, the Star Ledger article makes it sound like things were much worse

The state’s medical university took in $36 million in illegal Medicare and Medicaid payments as part of a kickback scheme designed to bolster its troubled cardiac surgery program, and top school officials conspired to cover it all up, according to the school’s federal monitor.

The scheme involved 18 cardiologists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey who were given essentially no-show teaching jobs at salaries of $150,000 or more. In return, they were expected to refer patients to the cardiac surgery program, the monitor alleges in a report sent to the U.S. Attorney and expected to be released tomorrow. The doctors were paid almost $6 million over four years.

Thats a pretty damn big coverup and alot of fraud.  Sounds like investigators will be busy.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Matt Stoller at MyDD:

I don’t think Menendez is corrupt, but I really don’t know.  And I agree with TPMMuckraker that there is a corruption problem in the Democratic caucus, though it’s much smaller and more petty than the Republican machine.  It’s something we have to and will work through.  But there are a lot of structural incentives for a strongly partisan Republican Attorney General to continue using innuendo that he is.  I mean nothing says higher office like ‘the heroic US Attorney investigating embattled and powerful Senator’.  And creating a lot of smoke and mirrors through rumor and innuendo would be a good way to take a newish Senator and make him ’embattled’.

Menendez Fights Back Against Second Smear Campaign

Senator Menendez gave a passionate speech today at the Democratic State Convention that brought the crowd to a sustained standing ovation.  He is aggressively fighting back against attacks from Republicans, and suggests that the new investigation by U.S. Attorney Bush Pioneer Chris Christie is politically motivated.  From the speech:

We have seen an orchestrated series of leaks, bogus ethics complaints and outright fabrications since the beginning of this campaign.

Menendez is exactly right.  The New York Times and Star Ledger showed that Kean’s previous ethics charges were totally false.  So there’s a track record here that does not favor Junior.