Tag Archive: Attorney General

Poor Acting

For the past two years, New Jersey has not had an Attorney General. John Hoffman was elevated to the post of Acting Attorney General when Governor Christie appointed Jeff Chiesa to the United States Senate to fill the seat of Frank Lautenberg.

The Attorney General is supposed to be the people’s top government attorney, not the governor’s. The Governor has his own chief counsel whose office is in the same State House suite as Christie’s.

Government is based on checks and balances, and in New Jersey the Senate vets the governor’s nominee for AG. But Christie has circumvented the state constitution by leaving Hoffman in the acting position for far too long.

Hoffman’s lack of concern for the people he is supposed to be working for is exemplified by his stubborn defense of the Exxon Mobil giveaway settlement. Instead of defending the governor’s blunder, he should be advocating for the people and the environment in New Jersey.

In many states, the people elect the Attorney General. But that’s not the solution to our problem. With money rather than principle being the prime factor in our electoral process, an elected AG would turn into an auction, with the job going to the highest bidder.

Governor Christie should obey the letter and the spirit of the state constitution and submit a nominee to the state senate for vetting. Whether it’s Hoffman or someone else, the nominee would receive a hearing and be questioned by both parties. Public input would also be part of the process. That’s the way the system is supposed to work.  At least that’s how it should work for a chief executive who respects the constitution and the rule of law.

When is a gift not a gift?

promoted by Rosi

Answer: When You’re the Governor of New Jersey.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, a trusted Christie insider, issued a formal legal opinion this week in which he determined that Executive Order 24 – which requires annual disclosure of gifts, etc. by the governor – only requires Christie to disclose gifts “received in return for performing some service, such as speaking at an event.”

The effect is that the Governor doesn’t have to reveal gifts from his many “friends,” including Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and Jordan’s King Abdullah and doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of his failure to disclose any gifts during his 5 1/2 years in office.

But there’s something missing from the Attorney General’s opinion; a subtle omission that could easily be overlooked while poring over the legal quagmire that passes for AG’s advice. And yet it’s so significant as to betray the fact that the opinion – rather than being independent legal advice – is nothing more than a ruse to protect Christie’s veil of secrecy:

Wanted: A Special Prosecutor

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].”

Chris Christie’s Bridgegate Legal Bills: You’re on the hook for $6.51 million-plus

Gov. Chris Christie has already has New Jersey in his taillights, but he’s left behind for us a scandal-related mess he’s expecting others to clean up. And that would be us.

Christie’s legal bill – costs to be paid by all of us – is now $6.51 million. And that’s just through April. The windfall in legal fees racked up goes to the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a tidy sum for rainmaker Randy Mastro, who comes into the picture via Christie ally Rudy Guiliani.

  • Billable hours: In March, the firm reported 59 people working the case. That includes one lawyer 2 years out of law school who billed 342 hours that month; averaging 11 hours every day including Saturdays and Sundays. Tab just for that guy? Nearly $120k.

  • Whitewash: The Mastro Report (issued this March) was 344 pages; 75 interviews, 97 pages of appendices, 600-plus pages of exhibits. It took months and dozens of professionals to produce. And nobody took it seriously. It was obvious, self-exonerating whitewash. Fictional. Contradictory on its face. A massive, leap of overconfidence on Christie’s part that backfired big-time.

  • Christie’s Summer of Failure – And Ours

    Promoted by Rosi, who is not as convinced as the writer or the first commenter, of the eventual outcome.

    As the dog days of Summer set in (actually, it’s pretty cool out today, now that I think about it), the nearly unbelievable extent of the failures of our strong-willed governor have clearly emerged. Here is a man who was elected to one of the most powerful governorships in the nation, yet, after a full term and then some, he’s achieved nothing.

    In infrastructure, he failed us. He vetoed the construction of a long-overdue Trans-Hudson link in his first term. Now he’s illegally shuffling around millions to fund repairs on the Pulaski Highway. Public transit fares remain astronomical, especially for those commuting into New York City. I’d say that all of this is due to his “small government” philosophy, but that’s really the philosophy of the Republican Party. Christie has no philosophy, no guiding set of ideas, no overall goals, at least none that do not relate to his national political career. He does like to yell at people who ask him tough questions