Gov. Chris Christie has just announced who will succeed the late Senator Frank Lautenberg: NJ Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa.
Chiesa will serve until after the election to fill the seat, currently set by the Christie timetable as Wednesday, October 16, after a primary currently set for a date in August. Chiesa has pledged not to seek to retain the office in the upcoming Senate election.
In appointing Chiesa, one day after Frank Lautenberg’s funeral and as his body lies in repose in the well of the Senate, Christie ignores the chance to do something more noble and more in keeping with the sensibilities of his constituents, choosing instead to pick someone high on the Christie food chain. Before Chiesa was New Jersey’s Attorney General, he was Chief Counsel to Christie. He met Christie in the law firm that once bore Christie advisor Bill Palatucci’s name (Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, now known as Dughi & Hewit). Chiesa followed Christie to the US Attorney’s office when Christie had that title; the Christie administration has several former employees from there in high positions. Chiesa headed up Christie’s transition team before the governor was sworn in in January of 2010.
Last year Bill Orr covered the still-ongoing public safety story of New Jersey’s privatized halfway house system, most of which were run by Community Education Centers (CEC). That’s the company run (till recently) by Bill Palatucci , former law colleague of both Chiesa and Christie and still in Christie’s inner orbit .(Palatucci extricated himself from the company even as the sister of a woman murdered by an escaped inmate at one of his facilities filed suit against CEC). There were serious questions about how the law firm all three worked for had set up Education and Health Centers of America as a “non-profit” allowed to contract with the NJ Department of Corrections and then pass the revenue on to CEC.
That same month last year the_promised_land wrote in Blue Jersey about a manuever by AG Chiesa that looked suspiciously political in the 2011 legal challenge to Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera’s election. His noted Chiesa may have been serving his political patron, Christie, in a way entirely inappropriate for the chief lawyer for the state’s interests – and not it’s governor’s political interests. He wrote Chiesa’s maneuvers looked like an effort to try to take out a Democratic Assemblywomen by manipulating legal arguments.
You’ll want to see the other side; what the Chris Christie administration wants you to know about Chiesa. So, below the fold, Christie’s release to press in its entirety.