In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, who has no control over state prosecutors, was indicted on state criminal charges by a Texas Grand Jury investigating allegations that he had abused his power. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, who has turned abuse of power into standard operating procedure, spends his days running around the country “not running” for president, gleefully untroubled by the notion of hard time in the state pen.
Here’s why. Unlike the practice in most states, the governor of New Jersey gets to appoint the state’s attorney general. Christie, for his part, has appointed trusted allies, and, despite denials, he has considerable control over what goes on in the attorney general’s office. (Do we really think an attorney general appointed by Chris Christie would file criminal charges against him?) And since the attorney general oversees the entire criminal justice system of the state, including the operations of the state police and county prosecutors, Christie essentially controls the entire law enforcement apparatus of the state.
As a result, there are no active criminal investigations into possible violations of state law by the Governor and his associates. All investigations are being conducted by outside entities – the Manhattan District Attorney, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.S. Attorney – none of whom have jurisdiction over violations of NJ law. We even recently learned, thanks to the persistence of NJ Watchdog, that the attorney general’s Division of Criminal Justice went so far as to deep-six an investigation into allegations of serious pension fraud by Lt. Gov. Guadagno. http://watchdog.org/147694/chr… We also are left with troubling unanswered questions about the role of the Christie administration in quashing a 43-count corruption indictment against the Hunterdon County Sheriff and two deputies with close ties to the administration. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10…
This is serious. The people of NJ desperately need an independent special prosecutor to investigate potential violations of state law by the Governor and his associates. I cannot overemphasize the significance and urgency of this point. All indications are that the Governor, unlike the rest of us, is free to flout state law with impunity. That is a deeply unsettling notion for a democracy, especially when the politician in question aspires to live in the White House.
However, if we have been misinformed, and Christie has nothing to hide, he should – to borrow a phrase from Richard Nixon – welcome this investigation. After all, the people of NJ deserve to know that their governor isn’t a crook.
POSTSCRIPT. Here, in advance, is the public explanation that Christie will provide in rejecting calls for a special prosecutor. (We all know the real reason.) 1. “You can’t come up with a better question than that, jerk?!” 2. “A special prosecutor would duplicate work already being done by the attorney general’s office.” 3. “A special prosecutor would waste valuable taxpayer dollars [which are better squandered on my own legal defense team].”