Tag Archive: Zulima Farber

Corruption is Corruption by any other name

Can someone explain to me why Chris Christie gets to be above the law because he was a US Attorney and is now running for Governor?

Senator Menendez wasn’t happy he was being investigated (by Chris Christie) while he was running for Senate, but he still put up with it.

Christie may not get investigated because he is no longer US Attorney under the theory of “what done is done and it can’t be changed”.  I understand that, but it’s BS.

Will our Congress or Justice Department refuse to investigate Chris Christie because the issue is moot?  Will they decline to investigate because he no longer is US Attorney and can no longer violate the rules of that office?  Will they decline to investigate because if he wins (he won’t) it will consume his term in office?

The Lie of the “Weak on Corruption” AG

US Attorney Chris Christie has made a name for himself as the only prosecutor in the state who has taken on public corruption, largely because he repeatedly made the claim and the media printed it without checking.

This has been an extremely helpful theme for him, portraying himself as the lone gunman out to get the bad guys against a corrupt and weak establishment.  It works even better for this Republican prosecutor as the establishment is Democratic, since anyone who complains about Christie’s tactics is immediately beaten down with Lonely Knight on a White Horse illusions.  Even some Democrats out there, and some of our commenters on this site, treat Christie as if he is the one true king come to save us all from public corruption.

No one can deny that Christie’s office is doing an excellent job of nailing corrupt pols.  It started before Christie with the FBI investigating Jim Treffinger and Monmouth County corruption, two major investigations into Republicans Christie inherited but has used to bolster his bi-partisan armor.  To his credit, Christie has directed his teams — prosecutorial and investigative — to continue the effort.

But Christie has taken a particular glee in the fight, and used his bully pulpit excessively to promote himself, support members of his own party, and attack others.  Some of us consider it unseemly and borderline misuse of office, others consider it his due to beat his chest after vanquishing opponents.

But one major piece of his puzzle — that he has been alone from the start — appears to be a myth.  Christie’s favorite target was Peter Harvey, who by all accounts wasn’t a terribly good AG, for never doing anything to take on corrupt public officials.

But is that true?  Our investigation suggests it is not, and in fact is a gross misstatement of fact. 

The fact is that there were 41 convictions [see all here] of public corruption under Peter Harvey, who started in February 2003 and left in June 2006.  Many of these were small fry, as many of Chris Christie’s have been.  However, there were also:

  • Hainesport Mayor and CFO for embezzling $339,000;
  • NJ Division of Taxation official Michael Johnson for stealing $81,000 in public money;
  • Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Imreveduto for misuse of campaign funds was kicked out of office;
  • Democratic Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small for tampering with election ballots;
  • Commerce Commission Chief of Staff Lesly Devereau for corruption and criminal conspiracy;
  • NJ Transit general manager and vice president Maureen Milan for taking bribes;
  • Many, many, many motor vehicle commission officials for selling false licenses to illegal aliens.

That’s 41 in just over three years for Harvey, while Christie boasts repeated — and his media friends repeat — that he now has 120 in six years.  We found a total of 62 public corruption convictions from the AG’s office since 2003, and there are more before that but the AG’s website doesn’t list them.  So, it is true that Christie has a larger number and some higher profile corruption cases, but there is a good reason for that.

Chris Christie is the only United States Attorney in New Jersey.  If there is going to be a case of corruption brought under federal law in this state it is going to be brought by the US Attorney, who since 2002 was Chris Christie.

The New Jersey Attorney General is only one of many prosecuting agencies in the state, but in addition to the Attorney General each county has it’s own prosecutor with his or her own investigative team.  Most cases of local and county officials violations of state law are brought to court under the county prosecutor’s office. 

These have brought significantly more cases to the fore.  A short review of just a couple county prosecutor web sites — which are really weak — found another 9 cases in the past couple years.  Since there are 21 county prosecutors, that adds up to quite a few other prosecutions.

We can’t say for sure, but are pretty willing to bet that there are far more than 120 public corruption convictions brought by state and county officials over the past seven years.  All the 21 county prosecutors would need is three and a half each over those six years to reach that number.  Seriously, does anyone doubt that there weren’t that many?  In relatively quiet Somerset County there were two Mayors forced to resign after convictions, the son of the Freeholder’s Chief Clerk caught stealing from county property, a police officer nailed for stealing airline miles, and the recent park scandal. 

So it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that prosecutors appointed by the Governor (AG and county prosecutors) have nailed more corrupt public officials and employees than the US Attorney’s office.  Yet the myth of the Lone Anti-Corruption Knight Templar Chris Christie  continues.

A good bit of this comes from the fact that Peter Harvey was largely incompetent and screwed up some high-profile cases, and was himself caught in unethical though not illegal situations.  Further, Christie and Harvey had a massive personality conflict that caused the two to go after each other quite often.

But the “accepted wisdom” that came out of these facts is sorely mistaken, no matter how often reporters, editors and columnists repeat it.

There is a massive corruption issue in New Jersey, one that is being addressed at all levels.  Christie is not the sole fighter in the battle, but simply the loudest and most noticeable.

Monday News Roundup, afternoon edition

  • What’s the best thing about turning eighteen?  Being too old to get hit on by Mark Foley?  Good guess, try again.  The best thing about being over eighteen is YOU CAN VOTE!!!  There is still time to register, or to register someone else! BlueJersey makes it easy.  Click here and fill out the pre-adressed, pre-stamped from and get it in the mail by close of business tomorrow.  Chances are you have a kid or sibling or neighbor who wants to register and needs a nudge.  So give ’em a nudge and make your vote count twice. (sort of)
  • So what do Whitney Houston and Zulima Farber have in common?  That’s right, they both love bad boys.  Zulima’s main squeeze Hamlet Goore just got busted for skipping his court date to go on a tropical vacation.  This guy has a history of being a bum and would probably would be living in his mama’s basement if it weren’t for Zulima’s dime.  An appeal doesn’t seem likely.  Said the judge: “I found that to be not very persuasive especially in view of his driving aspect, which I concluded showed nine separate events previously where he had not complied with some court-associated event.”
  • Gang violence in Trenton is on the rise.  The NY Times takes a trenchant look at the situation in the state capital.  It’s ain’t pretty.
  • More bad news out of Trenton, this time of the property tax variety.  The Governor weighs in as the state legislators seem to be running out the clock.  Note to legislators: if you do something about my propTax bill, I promise to spend whatever I save down in Atlantic City!
  • Finally an election update via the NY times.  First up:  Bob Mendendez is a pit bull and he’s not backing down.  Next: Junior is riding his father’s jock.  Go figure.

    P.s. In case you have a short attention span, I’ll remind you again to register yourself or a friend to vote.

  • Corzine to announce new AG at 5pm

    According to the Courier Post, Governor Corzine has called a 5pm press conference today to announce his new choice for Attorney General to replace Zulima Farber who resigned last week.

    Speculation about a replacement has centered around two Corzine administration officials — Anne Milgram, the second-in-command at the attorney general’s office, and Corzine’s chief counsel, Stuart Rabner.

    Update: The Associated Press & Gannett are reporting that Stuart Rabner will be the next Attorney General.  We will see at 5pm.

    News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Aug 15

  • We’re excited to report that at a townhall event last night, Senator Menendez indicated he’s pro-net neutrality. It’s the first time he’s announced his position on the issue.
  • Yesterday’s announcement from Zulima Farber that she will resign marked the first time in modern history that a New Jersey attorney general resigned under pressure. The Star Ledger editorial board explains why she had to resign:

    When Corzine took office, he vowed he’d run an ethically tight ship, that ethical lapses, missteps and misjudgments would not be tolerated from his Cabinet officers.

    Given that standard, Corzine had little choice but to accept Farber’s resignation hours after retired Appellate Division Judge Richard Williams concluded that she had violated three ethics provisions governing employees in the Attorney General’s Office.

  • Home sales in New Jersey are down 16.3% during this past quarter compared to a year ago whereas the national average drop in sales was 7%. Still, prices have remained steady.
  • The state’s unemployment rate rose from 4.9% in June to 5.1% in July. The nation as a whole also experienced a 0.2% increase from 4.6% to 4.8%. While nationwide the number of jobs created numbered 113,000, in New Jersey, we actually lost 3,800 jobs. Since December of 2000, the state has lost a quarter of its manufacturing jobs.
  • Although 96% of New Jersey’s teachers are “highly qualified” according to the No Child Left Behind standards, in some urban schools only 50%-60% of teachers meet these standards. Like most other states, New Jersey has asked the government for a one year extension to become fully compliant.
  • Delta may soon become the second commercial airline offering flights from Trenton-Mercer airport. If the deal goes through, the airline will fly daily to Atlanta and Boston.
  • Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) wants to end a different type of “pay-to-play”. He wants to ban schools from charging fees for students’ participation in sports or other extracurricular activities. The school districts say they have resorted to fees to keep the activities going at a time when school budgets are being cut.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer has a great story on Newark mayor Cory Booker’s mission to clean up the city and make it safe again in order to attract jobs and residents. Some residents say they’re already seeing a change: “You see more police since he’s been in,” Fuld resident Alicia Sly says. “It’s changing. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
  • Power 99’s Peace on the Street Jam concert series continues on the Camden waterfront tomorrow headlined by Megan Rochell.

    This is an open thread. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

  • Corzine/Farber Press Conference

    Corzine just announced that he is accepting Zulima Farber’s resignation effective August 31. He insists that “this is her decision” (yeahhhh).

    Farber: “Having read the report, I am steadfast in my convictions that Judge Williams’ findings do not compell my resignation, and no one has asked for it.” (except everyone)

    Pressed by reporters, Corzine insists he did not ask Farber to resign. (press reports say he did)

    Farber says she is resigning because the fight that would have to ensue to keep her job would impair her ability to serve the people of New Jersey.

    Menendez’s statement:

    “Zulima Farber made a decision in the best interests of the state.  She has been a tenacious and effective Attorney General, and I am not surprised that in response to the special prosecutor’s report, she put service above self.  She should be commended for acting quickly and sparing the state from protracted proceedings and petty partisan posturing.  As a former public advocate, counsel to a governor, and a prosecutor, Zulima Farber has been a faithful public servant for many years, and I wish her well.”

    AP: Farber Will Resign

    The Associated Press reports that Attorney General Zulima Farber will announce her resignation during the 6PM news conference on NJN.

    Bob Menendez’s semi-vaguish statement:

    “The special prosecutor’s report concludes that while the Attorney General did not break the law, she did violate the state’s code of ethics.  The public has a right to expect that government officials uphold the highest standards of integrity, and these offenses are serious.  A cabinet member can only perform the duties of their office if they have the full confidence of the governor and the public.  I hope the Attorney General will act according to the best interests of the state.”

    Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

    Corzine Asks Farber To Resign

    Bad news for Farber:

    Attorney General Zulima Farber violated the state’s code of ethics but did not break the law when she went to the aid of her boyfriend during a traffic stop, according to a report issued this morning by the special prosecutor investigating the Memorial Day weekend incident.

    “Her conduct does raise significant ethical questions that must be addressed,” special prosecutor Richard Williams wrote in the 43-page report. “While there is evidence to establish that the attorney general was aware of, and acquiesced in, some of the favorable treatment received by Mr. Goore, I do not believe that conduct warrants criminal prosecution.”

    PoliticsNJ reports that Corzine has asked for her resignation:

    Gov. Jon Corzine, who appointed Farber when he took office in January, had pledged a zero tolerance policy for members of his administration who place “private interests above the public good.”

    Sources close to the Governor say that Corzine has asked Farber to resign.

    Farber’s term does not expire until January 2010, and the State Constitution prevents her from being fired.  Her removal can come only through resignation or impeachment.

    It’s over. Time to step down.

    Read the full report here (pdf)

    Update (1:15 PM): According to Wally Edge, Farber seems unwilling to step down:

    Zulima Farber is strongly resisting advice from friends that she resign quickly, according to a source close to the Attorney General.

    Farber on Her Way Out?

    Looks like Attorney General Zulima Farber’s career may be in its last throes. PoliticsNJ reports:

    Gov. Jon Corzine has seen the Special Prosecutor’s preliminary investigation of Attorney General Zulima Farber’s role in a May traffic incident involving her live-in boyfriend, and sources close to the Governor say that the results will not help the Attorney General remain in office.  Special Prosecutor Richard Williams is expected to release his report this morning.

    News Round-up & Open Thread, Sunday August 6, 2006

    Sorry this is so late today, but I just got back from a couple days of vacation.  Here’s the news for today…

  • The executive editor of the Daily Record says if all the special session does is find creative new ways to play Three Card Monte with our money, then there is no point and it remind him of nothing more than a scene from the movie “Dave”
  • A spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection said that there were no permits needed from the DEP to turn a site of a former thermometer making company into a daycare center.  In fact, the DEP thought the site was a vacant lot.  So i guess the DEP isnt worried about children being exposed to mercury.
  • The Gloucester County times says the Zulima Farber situation is becoming a campaign issue in the US Senate Race. It must be easier for Junior to talk about this than Social Security.
  • An investigation into bill padding by workers in the Treasury department is still ongoing with one lawmaker saying, “Taxpayers are likely to lose out because state workers who’ve been suspended — with pay — do not have to repay taxpayers.”
  • Five years ago, it was estimated that the NJ State House needed $90 million in renovations, but still nothing major has been done on the building which was built in 1792.
  • Apparently everyone is offended now in the immigration battle dividing Riverside in Burlington County.
  • A Superior Court judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit accusing two Xanadu developers of trying to renege on building a minor league ballpark in the Meadowlands.

    Did I miss anything?  Whats on your mind?