Tag Archive: ethics

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.

Chris Christie and Solomon Dwek – a very interesting and tangled web

Yesterday, Solomon Dwek – the key “criminal-turned informant” for Chris Christie’s US Attorney office who helped that office bust dozens of people, including Democratic politicians –  pleaded guilty to bank fraud. But as more and more information sifts out about his role as a “cooperating witness” and his own history, there’s a very disturbing pattern that leads back to Chris Christie. And that pattern looks like more than coincidence.

The first and most obvious question is why someone who committed bank fraud to the tune of $50 million would become a central player in political bribery scandals – especially in areas where he wasn’t involved before.  And why did “tough on crime” Christie offer Dwek the opportunity to commit so much crime for so long? Crime is crime whether you’re doing it to get rich, or you’re doing it to keep yourself out of jail for the rest of your life. Why was Dwek allowed to do so much damage to – mainly Democratic – politicians (who should all be punished if guilty). Dwek’s game was bank fraud, hardly the type to wade into political bribery without considerable coaxing, and training. One of the lawyers for one politician (Louis Manzo) said this:

“How does Mr. Dwek get the starring role in this government production?” Lynch asked, following the brief appearance before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark. “We know he’s been charged with stealing $50 million. So how does he get placed in Hudson County, where he has no ties? It’s an interesting question.”

Which leads to another nearly overlooked and more disturbing item – but you’ll only know if you click through…  

It’s not the tickets. It’s the abuse of power.

If there is one thing that is frustrating about articles that “seem” to help push a narrative about “Wrong Way Christie”, it that they miss the most important point.  An OpEd by James Ahern today comes close to hitting the mark as it talks about irresponsibility and endangering others (especially his 4 children who were in the car when he was speeding) – and while he talks about it being a reflection on something we can all relate to in terms of everyday tasks and obeying the law, there is an even bigger point about Christie’s driving record.

And it has nothing to do with his speeding or his numerous actions, or even his going the wrong way down a one way street and arguing that “the motorcyclist hit him” and lying about whether there was a lawsuit – which in and of itself is an enormous lack of any sense of responsibility.

It is the abuse of his office – his position as US Attorney that he used in both known incidents – in order to curry favor for himself.   The other day, I wrote about how Christie has one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else.  And while this is a perfect example of what I was talking about in that diary, the even bigger issue is whether New Jerseyans want to have a sleazy lawyer who can’t take responsibility for his actions and uses his position to abuse power for personal gain as their Governor.

In the 2002 accident where he sent a motorcyclist to a Trauma Level 1 hospital, er, “was hit by a motorcyclist”,  we had this:

“The officer has a lot of discretion at that point,” Cosgrove said. “He could’ve issued a summons in that case, but he did not.”

Asked whether Christie’s job title factored into the officer’s decision, Cosgove said, “I don’t think I want to make that kind of deduction, but I think the facts speak for themselves.”

And in the 2005 speeding/unregistered/uninsured vehicle “sedan” with 4 children and 3 adults in it (certainly safe), Christie either said he was a US Attorney or the tow truck driver “happened to know who he was” (sure) and even if so, the tow truck driver was amazingly able to get the police to allow Christie’s car to not get towed.

In both instances, the DOJ Rules prohibit this abuse of power:

Use of Title. With rare exceptions, employees engage in outside activities in their private rather than official capacities. Therefore, when engaging in outside activities in their private capacity, employees may not indicate or represent in any way that they are acting on behalf of the Department, or that they are acting in their official capacity.

Once again, Christie shows that he is nothing more than using his power to get more power and take advantage for his own personal benefit.

And that is the “law and order” candidate?

Did Christie REALLY go there?

Subtitled:  “Oh no he DI-N’T…Oh, yes he DID!”

The headline is one of the funniest of the unintentional irony scale, and reads “GOP candidate Chris Christie accuses Gov. Corzine of politicizing U.S. Attorney’s Office”

Excuse me while I clean up after pissing myself.

Chris Christie is complaining about someone else politicizing the US Attorney’s office?  But wait – it gets better.  Christie’s concern is about criticism of acting US Attorney Ralph Marra and the investigation that his own bosses and the Justice Department are looking into with respect to Marra’s own comments.  This is an internal ethics inquiry that Corzine had absolutely nothing to do with, and in fact, the only real criticism that Corzine or his campaign have said about the US Attorney office were with respect to the FOIA request that was being blown off.

And, rightfully so – given that the US Attorney (Marra) is under investigation for politicizing his own office, while recently-“retired” Michele Brown, an admitted close personal friend who is literally indebted to Christie one of the ones responsible for (not) complying with the FOIA request.

But let’s get back to the politicization of the US Attorney office, shall we?

Christie admitted to having spoken to Karl Rove on numerous occasions about running for Governor while still a US Attorney (the Star Ledger even said that there is no legitimate reason for a US Attorney/Justice Department member to talk to a highly political figure in the administration.  Besides this being a likely Hatch Act violation, Karl Rove was knee deep (and lied about it) in the political firings of US Attorneys.  Christie was rated as “loyal” by the Bush administration in 2005, and saved his own job by getting off the list of US Attorneys to be fired with (1) suspiciously timed subpoenas of Senator Menendez right before the 2006 election (and right before getting off the list), and (2) a suspiciously timed cooperation by Solomon Dwek – someone who went from money laundering to political bribery right around the same mid to late 2006 timeframe.

The nondisclosure of the loan from Christie to Brown also leads to questions over whether he was tipped off by Brown to the timing of the arrests stemming from the Dwek cooperation – or what other ties he has to the US Attorney’s office.  It was very recently that he also talked about how he “had attorneys” that he would bring with him to Trenton if he won – another questionable tie and association between a supposed non-political branch of Government and a political campaign.

But as we all know, what Christie says as far as what others should do and the “Christie rules” that only apply to him and his “friends” are worlds apart.

Daggett’s Ethics Agenda of Recent Vintage

As I reported previously, Chris Daggett served as Chairman of the DEP “Permit Efficiency Review Task Force”. He was appointed to that position by DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson  http://www.nj.gov/dep/permittf…

That DEP Task Force had ethical problems from the outset. Several of its members represented clients that had ongoing regulatory issues or projects seeking approvals before the DEP, including Daggett himself.

This, at best, created the appearance of a conflict of interest, or actual conflicts. State ethics laws prohibit creation of even an appearance of impropriety, as well as an actual conflict of interest.

To remedy these problems, DEP Commisisoner Jackson was asked to make the Task Force deliberations tranparent and to restrict conflicts of interest – oth she adn Daggett failed to do so:

NEW JERSEY TO CONSULT INDUSTRY ON ECO-REWRITES IN SECRET – “Efficiency” Task Force Members Not Barred from Self-Dealing with DEP

Trenton – An industry-dominated task force to recommend an overhaul of state anti-pollution permits and policies will work in secret, according to an e-mail from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Lisa Jackson to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Commissioner Jackson also rebuffed PEER recommendations that materials submitted to the task force are made a public record and that task force members be barred from lobbying DEP for their clients.

On March 25, 2008, New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe wrote Jackson asking that task force sessions be open to the public, materials submitted to the task force be made publicly available and that task force members “be precluded from having any contracts, pending regulatory approvals, or financial relationships with the Department” during the 120-day life of the task force.

In a return e-mail on the evening of April 2, 2008, Commissioner Jackson denied all of PEER’s requests:

Public input “can only occur once the Task Force has completed its analysis and compiled the group’s thoughts and recommendations. At that time, I will determine how to most effectively seek and obtain input from the public”; and

“I do not consider it necessary or reasonable to restrict members of the Task Force or their respective employers from having other business before the Department.”

See this link for full documentation of these claims, including internal DEP documents, Jackson emails etc:


BTW, a very reliable source has told me that Chris Daggett owned contamainted property and has huge economic stakes in DEP “brownfields”, permitting, and toxic site cleanup issues he presided over and made recommendations on as Task Force Chair. I was also told, but have not confirmed, that Daggettt owned the parcel of contaminated Jersey City land that was involved in the Assemblyman Harvey bribery criminal indictment.  

Good reaseach project for someone here.

Steps to Reforming the Camden County Democrats

Walk into the Camden County Democratic headquarters in Cherry Hill, and you will almost certainly meet nice, motivated, bright liberals like yourself who merely want to win races for Democrats. No shadowy Sopranos-esque organization here. This diary addresses the question of whether the Camden County Democratic Committee and overall organization need reforming and new leadership. My criteria for reform is as follows. Regardless of political party or ideology, any organization that exchanges favoritism in exchange for financial gain is indeed ethically compromised. Further, any politician who votes on bills directly related to his or her employer must not be able to do so, and any political broker who is not held accountable to the general public, particularly voters, should not have unchecked power. You can see where I’m going with this.

Ethics office wants closer look at Payne trips

From the Hill.com, we learn that the Independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) wants another look at a trips taken by Congressman Payne and others:

The ethics committee, however, confirmed Monday that the five cases stemmed from two trips five Congressional Black Caucus members took to the Caribbean in November 2007 and 2008 that may have violated House travel rules barring corporate sponsorship. The members who attended those trips are Democratic Reps. Carolyn Kilpatrick (Mich.), Donald Payne (N.J.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Charles Rangel (N.Y.) and Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands.

The panel has since launched a formal investigation into the trip.

“While the Committee was previously investigating the Carib News trip, the OCE did refer five related matters to the Committee,” Blake Chisam, staff director for the ethics committee, said in a statement. “The Committee’s statement forming an investigative subcommittee in the Carib News matter makes reference to the five Members that were the subject of the OCE referrals.”

The Hill reported that the OCE interviewed several CBC staffers about the trip. The OCE apparently found enough evidence to forward the matter to the full ethics committee for further review.

Here’s a copy of the press statement they issued on the matter. They formed an investigative subcommittee for a further look at the officially-connected travel in 2007 and 2008 that was sponsored, funded or organized by Carib News or Carib News Foundation:

The subcommittee will have jurisdiction to conduct a full and complete inquiry into allegations that have arisen regarding the sponsorship of the travel in 2007 and 2008. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the subcommittee is to report its findings , conclusions and recommendations to the full committee.

We’ll have to see if anything further comes of this when those finds, recommendations and conclusions are reached.

Deep Thought – Christie hearts corrupt Rudy

(source: NJ.com)

So Chris Christie is looking forward to disgraced former Mayor Giuliani who used taxpayer money as his own petty cash drawer campaigning with and supporting him:

“I hope Mayor Giuliani will continue to be supportive and be here and work with me”

As huntsu noted a few months back:

And now he is taking the endorsement of a crooked politician?  Don’t believe me?

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

Giuliani took public money, tax dollars, intended to help the disabled and the poor and used it to cheat on his wife.  That’s supposed to be the kind of politician Christie hates so much it makes his head spin.  That’s supposed to be the guy Christie puts in jail.  

With Christie palling around with people who are so eager to use public funds for their own private escapades, tell me again why he wouldn’t approve of this behavior when it is for his own benefit?

Is there anything Chris Christie won’t lie about?

Even on something as silly as Twitter, Chris Christie has to lie.

His latest is a claim on Corzine’s budget and property taxes – a false claim that either confirms his own assertion that he isn’t good at math or that his penchant for lying is becoming more than a coincidental pattern whenever he opens his mouth about an issue.

It makes you wonder – someone who talks about how much of a stellar reputation he is running on is the same someone that can’t get a sentence out without getting defensive, going on the attack, not addressing the issue at hand, and brushing aside any rational or sensible question as to his behavior.

If it is the US Attorney scandal and “the list” with his suspiciously timed subpoenas, the way he got his US Attorney job after hundreds of thousands of dollars donated, his corrupt pay-to-play actions on no bid monitoring deals, the favors for friends who turned around and donated to his campaign, his disappearing values. or even his campaign promises that would leave the state’s budget with a $7.4 billion deficit – the man either won’t or can’t keep his story straight.

Didn’t we just vote this type of regime out of office for a reason?  

Deep Thought – Christie’s testimony

If Chris Christie is so proud of his record as a “no-nonsense” crimebuster, why did he choose to let 7 (more than anyone else) corporate criminals off the hook in exchange for steering millions to his friends, former bosses and former colleagues who happen to be linked to the non-prosecution of his brother?

Isn’t a crime a crime?