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Shakedown on the Hudson
January 18, 2014 11:06 AM   Subscribe

MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (118 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
This appears to be excellent investigative journalism, but it will be interesting to see if it has staying power because it is from MSNBC, which very purposefully has positioned itself as the left-wing alternative to FoxNews for all of your Newstainment needs.

Christie somehow came out looking okayish after the bridge scandal, and it will probably be the same narrative from him on this one. "I'm so heartbroken that people so close to me would behave this way."

Christie scares me as a GOP presidential candidate because he seems very electable, contrary to pretty much everyone put forth by that party for the last two election cycles. Pretty sure even with the corruption though, he'd be much less of a devil than a lot of the other possibles from that side of the fence.

I'm curious if anyone from his administration ever serves jail time for this stuff. It's clearly criminal behavior.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:35 AM on January 18


You forgot to write "if proven true." Otherwise I agree with everything you wrote.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:52 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure even with the corruption though, he'd be much less of a devil than a lot of the other possibles from that side of the fence.

I'm not so sure about that. The other potential candidates are, at least, openly evil/stupid/deranged. Christie works hard to hide it and put on that "man of the people" act, while his minions do the devil's work behind the scenes. I'm of the opinion that a Christie candidacy and administration would be a dirty-tricks jamboree, on a level that would make Nixon's ghost blush. The guy is just a big bully, pure and simple.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:55 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Like I mentioned before, shaking down the Mayor like this is a classic pay-for-play corruption case. The feds KNOW how to prosecute these. And they have people who are looking at real prision time. So, they're looking to rat. And if it's the lieutenant governor who is saying that it's coming from her boss? We'll, swear her in and ask her under oath is what I say...
posted by mikelieman at 11:56 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Of all the possible explanations for the bridge lane closures, the real estate deal is the most compelling. If the i's get dotted and the t's get crossed on this Christie is burnt toast. As it is he's gonna spend the rest of his life hearing that Springsteen / Fallon duet about him.
posted by localroger at 11:57 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


Christie should be done as a candidate once it came out that a woman in her 90s was delayed in getting medical care because of the lane closures and later died. Dead grandmas don't play well on TV. Even if "it was her time," like her family maintains, having her last hours on Earth being stuck in traffic as political payback is just plain shitty. "I was unaware," has never worked for me as an excuse either. Either you knew in which place you are complacent or you didn't in which case you are incompetent.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:02 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


It'll be strange to to see a political star leave a smoking crater for reasons other than a sex scandal. Does that even happen anymore?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:02 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.

I dunno about anyone else here but this big bowl of schadenfreude I'm eating is delicious
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:14 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


I dunno about anyone else here but this big bowl of schadenfreude I'm eating is delicious
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering

I dunno if that's eponysterical or just... kinda gross?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:21 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


eponynauseous?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:24 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


I dunno about anyone else here but this big bowl of schadenfreude I'm eating is delicious

I dunno, "reformer turns out to be hypocrite" doesn't make me happy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:28 PM on January 18


Seeing such hypocrisy on such a grand scale get exposed does make me happy, though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:31 PM on January 18


Kornacki has been doing stellar work on the NJ stories the past few weeks.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:42 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


not to downplay christie's corruption, but i'm not sure most people are really aware of just how crooked local politics can be, especially when real estate is involved. that the 1st season of 'The Wire' ends with an investigation into a land redevelopment deal getting quashed is not happenstance.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:43 PM on January 18


The diary angle kills them. What can they claim? She wrote six months of diary entries after the presser? Her hands must be tired!

Look at the denial. It doesn't deny those words were said, it denies they meant that.

And bridgegate is the Hoboken deal scaled up. Its the best parcel in the Northeast. All the stories before bridgegate say that.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


There's something else going on, as well: David Wildstein, the Port Authority official that actually pulled the trigger on the GWB closures, is angling for an immunity deal in exchange for testimony.

This and the Hoboken Sandy funds thing are representative of the best explanation for the Tri-State and moderate GOP panic over the GWB scandal. A lot of people in the know seem to believe that Christie really didn't have anything directly to do with the GWB closures - of course they would, but it's still more than I would have expected. They're not worried quite so much about the GWB scandal itself - they're worried that even if Christie didn't directly order it, there's dozens of other equally shady things hiding in the shadows that created the atmosphere where such a thing could be done without his knowledge and his underlings - all of which are known to be extremely loyal to Christie - wouldn't have thought twice about doing this in his name. There's dozens of similar scandals to GWB hiding in the wings - we're just waiting on someone to spill the beans or find the evidence. That's why the moderate/establishment GOP is freaking out.
posted by Punkey at 1:05 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Christie should be done as a candidate once it came out that a woman in her 90s was delayed in getting medical care because of the lane closures and later died.

That story suffers from the minor disadvantage of not being true.
posted by yoink at 1:06 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


The fact that the woman's daughter doesn't want to be involved in the controversy, and is okay with her mother's death because she believed that it was her time has nothing to do with medical science.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:09 PM on January 18


The story has enough truthiness that the specific details of whether she died at home because the ambulance was delayed or would have died anyway don't matter.
posted by euphorb at 1:15 PM on January 18


The fact that the woman's daughter doesn't want to be involved in the controversy, and is okay with her mother's death because she believed that it was her time has nothing to do with medical science.

Wow, I hope you use those telepathic and remote-diagnostic skills only for good.
posted by yoink at 1:25 PM on January 18


Wow, I hope you use those telepathic and remote-diagnostic skills only for good.

I don't get the sarcasm. We have no idea if this woman's death was caused by the delays. I think that it's lucky that there weren't more dire situations.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:27 PM on January 18


It's a red herring anyway. If nobody died because of it we can be grateful; it doesn't change the callousness of the deed.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:30 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


It's not disputed that the ambulance was delayed in reaching someone in cardiac arrest.

If you want to assert that this story is "not true", presumably because you think that the patient could not be revived, then that's your remote-diagnostic skills which I hope you will only be using for good.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:30 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]


Christie somehow came out looking okayish after the bridge scandal,

I'm not sure why you put this in the past tense. The investigations - both legal and journalistic varieties - are barely underway. Any amount of okay he is looking is likely extremely temporary.
posted by rtha at 1:36 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


Yeah when I read your comment and clicked on the link, I was expecting it to be an article about how someone planted the story of the woman dying while the lanes were closed. Instead, we got nothing of the sort, only that the woman's daughter doesn't think the lane closures contributed to her mother's death. Which of course doesn't prove anything and certainly doesn't make the story 'not true'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:37 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


"Sheeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit"
posted by angrycat at 1:47 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


It'll be strange to to see a political star leave a smoking crater for reasons other than a sex scandal. Does that even happen anymore?

Rod Blagojevich and Kwame Kilpatrick, but they were Democrats, so they're in prison. Christie will probably be our next president.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:53 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Add Jesse Jackson Jr to that list.
posted by peeedro at 1:59 PM on January 18


Rod Blagojevich and Kwame Kilpatrick, but they were Democrats, so they're in prison.
George Ryan, the Republican Illinois governor who proceeded Blagojevich, spent six years in prison before being released in 2013.

It sounds like there are a fair number of pretty compelling, telegenic stories about people who were hurt by this traffic jam: the woman who wasn't able to be there when her husband went into risky surgery; the guy who was 40 minutes late for his first day at the job he was finally able to land after being unemployed for a year. I don't think you need for it to have caused anyone's death for the ads to kind of write themselves.

I also don't see how this doesn't stick to Christie, even if he didn't know about it. If he hired people of low character and created a climate where this kind of thing was considered appropriate, then he's morally unqualified for leadership. If he didn't realize that the people he hired were of low character or that this kind of climate existed, then he's intellectually unqualified for leadership. Either way, it happened under his watch, and it says bad things about him that it was able to happen.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:12 PM on January 18 [10 favorites]


It is totally believable that Gov. Christie would withhold Sandy money as a form of political payback
posted by Renoroc at 3:01 PM on January 18


Keep in mind that he probably played nice with Obama post-Sandy as payback for Romney stiffing him on the VP nod.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Gov. Christie's response
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:36 PM on January 18


Let's break down the denial of this story.
"Mayor Zimmer's allegation that on May 16, 2013 - in front of a live auditorium audience - (Department of Community Affairs) Commissioner (Richard) Constable conditioned Hoboken's receipt of Sandy aid on her moving forward with a development project is categorically false," DCA spokeswoman Lisa Ryan in an interview.
Ok this is what they are saying. They do not deny any words that Constable is alleged to have said. they merely say that Constable, on a specific day, in a specific situation did not "condition Hoboken's receipt of Sandy aid on her moving forward with a development project is categorically false. He could have said it in the wings of the theater, in another room, on the phone, every day for weeks, just not that one single day.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:39 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Instead, we got nothing of the sort, only that the woman's daughter doesn't think the lane closures contributed to her mother's death. Which of course doesn't prove anything and certainly doesn't make the story 'not true'.

Oh for Christ's sake--a 91 year old woman was unrevivable (i.e. dead) when an ambulance arrived at the house SEVEN MINUTES after she had been discovered dead by her daughter. It really takes insane desperation to see this as somehow evidence that her death was "caused" by the traffic delays. She was going to be just as dead if the EMTs had got there three minutes earlier.
posted by yoink at 3:51 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


It really takes insane desperation to see this as somehow evidence that her death was "caused" by the traffic delays. She was going to be just as dead if the EMTs had got there three minutes earlier.

That's completely besides the point.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:53 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Long-time New Jersey journalist Michael Aron was on Kornacki's show this morning, and kept talking about how this was "politics as usual" in New Jersey. I'm sure some level of this kind of back-scratching politics happens everywhere, and at every level of government, but I can't imagine even a state that's known for corruption is going to tolerate it if Christie turns out to have been aware of a plan to block Sandy relief just to push through a development project.

It's also really hard to believe that Mayor Zimmer, known for being a Christie ally in the past, would just make something like this up out of the blue and immediately start talking about her willingness to testify under oath and submit to a polygraph. It's not impossible, but what would her angle be?

We now have three different NJ mayors who have aired grievances against Christie in the wake of bridge revelations, and I have to think that, with three weeks of news cycles to fill up until the most recent batch of subpoenaed witnesses have to turn over their documents, the media's going to be shaking the trees hard trying to find the next Fort Lee, Jersey City, or Hoboken.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:56 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Long-time New Jersey journalist Michael Aron was on Kornacki's show this morning, and kept talking about how this was "politics as usual" in New Jersey. I'm sure some level of this kind of back-scratching politics happens everywhere, and at every level of government, but I can't imagine even a state that's known for corruption is going to tolerate it if Christie turns out to have been aware of a plan to block Sandy relief just to push through a development project.

The problem is that the expansive eminent domain we have now is really a license to steal. Real estate is the dirtiest business ever in the USA.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:01 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Not to diminish the fact that ambulances may have been delayed, but there were school bus drivers trapped in their buses with school kids for hours. No air conditioning. No other adults. 40 or more kids. No bathrooms. Imagine yourself there. The noise. The smell. The hormones. The road rage.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:39 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Interesting that all roads seem to lead to PATH (heh) in the unfolding scandals. Jersey City's Mayor Fulop released this powerpoint (pdf) in essence accusing the organization of being corrupt (see page 24) in late October/early November of this year. At the time he announced he was planning to sue the PA for $400 million in back taxes and fines.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:10 PM on January 18


Look, the 91 year old woman is tragic, but not anything really that is going to resonate.

But consider this:

Imagine that it's the first day of school. You put your kid on the bus, for their first day. 7 hours later, you're standing at the bus stop. No kid. You wait AN HOUR FOR YOUR CHILD. No kid.

How much anxiety are you feeling after an HOUR of your kid being MIA? TWO HOURS?

When your kid isn't home after THREE HOURS, how do you measure that emotional pain and suffering?

Multiply that by the number of parents in the school system.
posted by mikelieman at 5:17 PM on January 18 [6 favorites]


Then, when the bus rolls up FIVE HOURS LATE, you need to bath your daughter because of the dried piss and caked on shit from being trapped in a bus for 5 hours with no other options but to shit on themselves.
posted by mikelieman at 5:18 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Keep in mind that he probably played nice with Obama post-Sandy as payback for Romney stiffing him on the VP nod.

Oh, man, that's perfect.
posted by box at 5:46 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Two things are going to kill Christie on this.

One is the whole Tony Soprano vibe this gives off. Sure, no, Tony never whacked nobody on his TV series, but his "associates" had a way of doing such things when it was deniably convenient for him. And he always got his taste. Tony didn't get his taste, you got a little problem conducting your business just to demonstrate the wisdom of giving Tony his taste.

Second is the incredible disproportionality of inconveniencing everyone who had to cross the GWB for WHATEVER bullshit reason it was. We can't be sure yet exactly WHICH bullshit reason it was, but we are already very sure the reason WAS bullshit, and that Tony's Christie's closest lieutenants were behind the scam. This is close enough the the media complex in NYC that it's very easy for lots and lots of people to keep prying, and it's big enough to be very hard to hide all the angles. Within a month or two we'll know why the traffic jam was engineered, and whether CC was in the loop or not it will finish him.

As Asimov pointed out as far back as the first Foundation novel, people will send their sons to die in war and salute the government that took them, but give them power that isn't reliable and traffic jams and they will hang you out to dry.

The Hoboken shakedown is a much bigger crime, but it's the traffic jam that will finish Christie as a politician.
posted by localroger at 8:01 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


localroger: Tony never whacked nobody on his TV series

What?
posted by tzikeh at 8:16 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


This is close enough the the media complex in NYC that it's very easy for lots and lots of people to keep prying

This is an underlooked factor, I think. You could have basically the same scandal going down in say, St. Louis, and you wouldn't get half as much coverage.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:54 PM on January 18


The Sandy aid angle is going to play badly for Christie. I used to live in Jersey City and everybody expected the politicians to be dirty. But the Sandy stuff seems to have a lot of psychic resonance; messing with Sandy aid is terrible PR. He was a hero when it went well and it cemented his bipartisan credentials. The Hoboken scandal completely undercuts that.
posted by immlass at 8:54 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: SSSSShhhhhhhh
posted by localroger at 9:22 PM on January 18


The Hoboken shakedown is a much bigger crime, but it's the traffic jam that will finish Christie as a politician.

its the reverse. Fort Lee is way bigger. same story, more money. most valuable parcel in the northwest. what all the stories said before the scandal.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 PM on January 18


By "it's the reverse" I assume you mean which is the "much bigger crime." No argument if so. It's still the traffic jam that will take him down.
posted by localroger at 10:11 PM on January 18


What I find bizarre and hilarious about this entire thing is that, once upon a time, the Port Authority was considered a power unto itself, so far above politics that it wasn't capable of being strong-armed by anyone so insignificant as a governor -- in fact, it strong-armed the governors of both states. The real estate deal that allowed the PA to establish the World Trade Center involved taking over the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, which became PATH. But the PA was so desirous of its new commercial real estate portfolio, and so immune to the pleas of commuters, that it extracted a legal exemption from both New York and New Jersey to have any future responsibility of expansion -- one reason there have been so many failed proposals over the years to improve public transportation in the cross-Hudson region. Imperious and deaf, that's what the PA was.

But nowadays, all Christie has to do is send an e-mail, and the entire PA bends to his will, like some opposition-head-cracking goons straight out of Costa-Gavras. That's something.
posted by dhartung at 2:17 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


By "it's the reverse" I assume you mean which is the "much bigger crime." No argument if so. It's still the traffic jam that will take him down.

Yes. I mean that the amount of money the people Christie was trying to help were getting is waay higher for Fort Lee.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:28 AM on January 19




it's because he acknowledges a role for the New Deal state

Well of course he does. When your primary motivation is to skim a taste off the top, you don't want to make the thing you're skimming too small.
posted by localroger at 12:28 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Another mayor (Long Branch) now says he started getting preferential treatment after endorsing Christie.
posted by Flunkie at 12:44 PM on January 19


Then, when the bus rolls up FIVE HOURS LATE, you need to bath your daughter because of the dried piss and caked on shit from being trapped in a bus for 5 hours with no other options but to shit on themselves.

Good grief, have there actually been reports of this, and if not is it really necessary to make it up? The situation was bad enough as it was.

I drive a carpool with 9 kids in the NY area and have been delayed by traffic so what should be a 40-minute drive has stretched to 3.5 hours. I've sat in the Lincoln tunnel while the kids ate their mid-morning snack in the van. It absolutely SUCKED, but I promise the kids were not covered in "caked on shit" when they got to school.
posted by torticat at 2:36 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Another mayor (Long Branch) now says he started getting preferential treatment after endorsing Christie.

And I bet he was just shocked to find himself receiving these completely unexpected and unlooked for rewards.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:38 PM on January 19


I admit there's an element of hyperbole in the scenario I presented as an alternative, but it is not unreasonable to expect the delay to have exceeded the capacity of more than one child's bladder?

And even one is too many.

BUT... Let's not forget the real issue I brought up. All of those parents standing there waiting for the bus. WORRYING ABOUT THEIR CHILDRENS' WHEREABOUTS AND SAFETY. For hours.

First day of school, yeah, 30 minutes, an hour. MAYBE. Snow. Yeah, and hour MAYBE... After about the second hour, I would have called the cops I guess -- in case no-one called me after something happened?
posted by mikelieman at 2:45 AM on January 20


Time for a little levity on the subject.
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:48 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


All of those parents standing there waiting for the bus. WORRYING ABOUT THEIR CHILDRENS' WHEREABOUTS AND SAFETY. For hours.

I don't actually think that happened, either. It was morning traffic that was affected, and the kids were late getting to school, not returning home.

However, I'm being pedantic, and none of this changes how incredibly reckless and dangerous the lane closures were. There was an enormous safety risk, about which the mayor raised the alarm I think on the first day, and even the instigators acknowledged... so, yeah. It's unbelievable.
posted by torticat at 3:01 PM on January 20


Regarding the Lt. Governor denying Zimmer's story: I'm sure she'd never have *anything to do* with any sort of corruption. Nope.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:40 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Yikes.

In the opposition brief, the attorney general argues the documents should be withheld to “protect those alleged to have committed corruption-related offenses from being pre-judged merely because allegations have been made against them,” among other reasons.

The attorney general is going to an extreme to keep all information about the investigation under wraps.


That's seriously fucked up.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:09 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


She also made life pretty miserable for some people at New Jersey State Council on the Arts in a way that seemed fairly vindictive, or at the very least, unprofessional.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:14 PM on January 20




Not totally on topic, but Christie's inauguration party at Ellis Island tonight has been cancelled, due to the storm.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:45 AM on January 21




Mayor Zimmer: "How you like me now, Guv?"
posted by tonycpsu at 12:11 PM on January 21


Looks like these events have had really negative effects on his poll numbers.
posted by annsunny at 4:37 PM on January 21


Tiger Beat on the Potomac: Ken Cuccinelli: Chris Christie should quit RGA gig
posted by zombieflanders at 6:42 PM on January 21




Another Chris Christie outrage: Data shows stark racial gap in Sandy aid distribution
Amid growing questions about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge and Sandy aid to Hoboken, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing an additional charge about his administration’s disbursement of relief aid. State data, obtained from the Christie administration through a lawsuit by the Fair Share Housing Center, reveal a dramatic racial gap in who received preliminary approval for funds from Sandy relief programs.

According to the data, decried by groups including the New Jersey NAACP, the Latino Action Network and the New York Times editorial board, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program rejected 35.1 percent of African-American applicants, 18.1 percent of Latino applicants, and only 13.6 percent of Caucasian applicants. The Resettlement Program rejected 38.1 percent of African-Americans, 20.4 percent of Latinos and 13.6 percent of Caucasians.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:39 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Hoboken Mayor Is Said to Have Told of Threat
Federal authorities in New Jersey have interviewed several witnesses who said the mayor of Hoboken told them in May about a state official’s threat to withhold hurricane recovery funds if the mayor did not support a development project favored by the governor, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The statements by the witnesses, two of whom are aides to the mayor, Dawn Zimmer, support the account she gave to federal prosecutors on Sunday, and the interviews suggest that prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have moved swiftly to investigate her accusations.

The aides said she had told them about the threat by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, shortly after it occurred, according to two people briefed on the matter.

A Hoboken city councilman, David Mello, said in an interview that Ms. Zimmer had also told him about the threat by Ms. Guadagno, a Republican. Mr. Mello, a Democrat, said he had been upset to hear about what he called “this quid pro quo ultimatum by the lieutenant governor.”
posted by zombieflanders at 5:53 AM on January 23


Ruh-roh for the lieutenant gov. And she claimed it was Christie who had the priority.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on January 23


Some of the characters in this little melodrama look like they came right off the "Soprano's" set.
posted by chuckiebtoo at 10:45 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Come on Mefi screenwriters, get cracking!
posted by Big_B at 3:45 PM on January 23


More on the Christie Administration's petty vindictiveness with NJ Arts groups:
Defending the Arts Amid a Culture of Fear.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:52 AM on January 25


Let's see who gets to testify in return for immunity first. Who's betting on Wildstein? On Kelly? Both?
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:23 PM on January 26


Another cover-up in Chris Christie's administration?

And lest you think that this is just another scandal coming out of the woodwork, here's the article from the NYT from last October detailing this mess.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:42 PM on January 27




Staff members in the governor’s office created tabbed and color-coded dossiers on the mayors of each town — who their friends and enemies were, the policies and projects that were dear to them — that were bound in notebooks for the governor to review in his S.U.V. between events.


NYT: For Christie, Politics Team Kept a Focus on Two Bids
posted by R. Mutt at 5:24 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Wow.

From the NYT article:

Staff members in the governor’s office created tabbed and color-coded dossiers on the mayors of each town — who their friends and enemies were, the policies and projects that were dear to them — that were bound in notebooks for the governor to review in his S.U.V. between events.

...

On Sept. 13, as she and Mr. Drewniak, the governor’s spokesman, worked with Port Authority officials to discuss how to respond to the first reporters’ inquiries about the lane closings that had effectively shut down Fort Lee, she {Bridget Kelly} spent the day with Mr. Christie in Seaside Heights, which had been devastated by a fire the previous evening.

Maybe there is no proof that he knew what was going on, but HE KNEW.

Mr. Christie himself tended to the smallest of details. He personally oversaw appointments to the State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, legislative leaders said, and when he wanted to discuss something with lawmakers, he texted them himself. (He told one top legislator that he had learned from his experience as United States attorney not to email; texts were harder to trace.)
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:16 AM on January 29


With friends like these...

Giuliani Says 'Fifty-Fifty' Chance Christie Knew About Bridge Lane Closures
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday there is a "fifty-fifty" chance New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) knew about an order to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September.

The assessment marked a big change for Giuliani, who has been a vocal defender of the governor in the wake of the bridge scandal and hosted a fundraiser for him last year before the scandal broke.

Emails that surfaced earlier this month showed one of the governor's top aides, Bridget Ann Kelly, was involved in discussions about the closures, which led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J.

"It's fifty-fifty, it leaves you with no possible way of knowing did she discuss it with him or didn't she discuss it with him," Giuliani said, in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera that was reported by Capital New York.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:16 PM on January 30


Either he knew or he didn't, that's pretty much the definition of 50-50 isn't it? Brilliant analysis, Mayor 911!
posted by Renoroc at 8:41 PM on January 30






Does this mean that Wildstein's got his immunity deals sewn up with NY, NJ, and the feds? It seems like leaking these kind of details to the press before that's taken care of would be counterproductive.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:09 PM on January 31




All this information is coming out just in time to ruin Christie's moment in the spotlight on Sunday.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:35 PM on January 31


Wildstein didn't actually say that he has proof that Christie knew; he claims that "evidence exists." It remains to be seen where this evidence exists and if one of the other people involved in this mess comes out with it.

There might very easily be more than one person immunized before this is over.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:06 PM on January 31


Also, don't read this as "I have proof that Christie knew about the plan for the lane closures." He merely claims that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening.

This doesn't seem to be any sort of smoking gun.

Yet.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:40 PM on January 31


This doesn't seem to be any sort of smoking gun.

Yet.


Basically every mainstream media news source disagrees with you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on January 31


I think we all saw this coming- of course the people he threw under the bus are going to fight back. Curious to see if the "evidence" claim pans out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:27 PM on January 31


Salon is as unsure as everyone else what this is about.

The letter isn’t the smoking gun some thought it was when the Times released it. In fact the paper had to edit its original lead, which reported that the letter said Wildstein had evidence that Christie knew about the lane closures. It’s worded weirdly: “evidence exists.” The only Christie statements the letter says Wildstein can prove are inaccurate are the ones the governor made about Wildstein.

The question is not whether or not Christie was party to the lane closures; the question is whether or not there's evidence to prove it. So far, this evidence (if any) hasn't been made public. I sincerely hope that it's out there and that it makes its way to us.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:22 PM on January 31


I sincerely hope that it's out there and that it makes its way to us.

I sincerely hope the investigation is performed thoroughly and fairly, and Chris Christie is punished or exonerated as appropriate. I am not sure how Christie being guilty is an outcome to hope for - the existence of a corrupt governor would seem indicative to me of a higher general level of corruption than the existence of corrupt loose cannon dumbasses.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:15 PM on January 31


> ... I am not sure how Christie being guilty is an outcome to hope for - the existence of a corrupt governor would seem indicative to me of a higher general level of corruption ...

I lived through the White House selling arms to Iran (violating an arms embargo), and then taking the money gained from the sales and delivering it to right-wing death squads in Central America (violating a law recently passed by Congress specifically forbidding it), and then listening to the President give a speech where he said that "his heart" tells him that none of it happened.

The only reason I care about Christie's status as a governor is that he might not yet have enough power to prevent us from nailing this particular bastard to the wall.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:37 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Let me be clear: I am not hoping that Christy is guilty of anything; I am hoping that if he is, that there is at least some concrete evidence of it floating around.

I also think that it is more likely that Christie was party to the lane closures than it is that this is all the work of "corrupt loose cannon dumbasses."
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:51 PM on January 31


So it's any opportunity to nail him to the wall?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:07 PM on January 31


Is that what you took away from my comment? Either I'm very bad at making myself clear or you're being particularly obtuse.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:16 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


He or She's probably talking to me, as I used the term "nail to the wall".
posted by benito.strauss at 8:47 PM on January 31


I believe he is as guilty as the day is long and given a hammer I would nail him to the wall myself. So sue me. Except that I think it's Christie who's being sued, so there's that.
posted by localroger at 8:52 PM on January 31


I just don't buy that these were a bunch of wildcatting staffers working against Christie's wishes. Christie created and nurtured the the culture where this happened, and from all the evidence it was not an isolated incident.

I got the feeling that you were saying that Christie's either guilty or innocent, and it would be worse if he was guilty. I totally support adhering to the rule of law, but to my best understanding Christie's guilty and the question is whether or not we manage to convict him.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:57 PM on January 31




Josh Marshall: Yep, He's Toast
But finally, look at what we have today: Christie either declaring or more like joining war with David Wildstein, something that looks to be no-holds-barred, nasty and to the (political or legal) death. Team Christie is arguing that Wildstein is a lifetime sleaze and liar who would do or so anything to save his own hide (all quite possibly true) ... who Christie appointed to a position of great responsibility at the Port Authority.

Who did this with a key Christie insider.

Again, that's Christie's defense, not the accusation.


But here's the killer for Christie. The 2016 primary is already underway, lining up political professionals, money people, power brokers in key states. That's all happening now and it will continue through this year. Next year, the actual campaign starts. But a lot will have happened by then.

...

So Christie has to recruit a campaign (the pros, the money people, the powerbrokers) as someone with net negative national standing and quite likely with polls that are getting worse over the course of the year.

But even that's actually not the worst of it. He has to build that campaign, build and consolidate that national standing, while at any moment along the way, a piece of evidence or accuser might surface that makes him totally radioactive politically and may even force him to resign as governor.

Now, to be clear, maybe Christie's innocent. And if he's innocent he knows that there can't be any smoking gun. Perhaps some of his closest associates have some way besides trust of having equal certainty. Maybe.

But none of the other people Christie has to court can. So for them, it's a clear and real risk that will probably hang over the prospect of a Christie presidential campaign through 2014 and perhaps beyond.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:22 PM on February 1




Christie's letter about David Wildstein is certainly bizarre.

He brings up things from high school (He was accused by his social studies teacher of "deceptive behavior",) says that his time as mayor was controversial, he was "a political animal who frightened people," and perhaps most damning of all, he was Governor Christie's eyes and ears inside the port authority.

Let's take a moment to reflect upon who exactly invented the position inside the port authority and then appointed this terrible character to the port authority to frighten people as he spied for Christie.

Why in the world would Christie think that it makes his judgment look any better to trash his own appointee??? This is truly bizarre.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:17 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


To me it reads as desperation. What would be worse for Christie than trashing his own judgement? The obvious guess to me is "being found to have participated in the bridge lane closings". If Wildstein is going to try to argue that he was just following orders (that came from Christie), and if he has some chance of making it look plausible, though no smoking gun, then Christie looking incompetent is better for him than looking guilty.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:29 AM on February 2


Except, of course, that this doesn't make Christie look incompetent since he knew about all of these things before he appointed Wildstein. It just makes him look like someone who is hell-bent on retribution. Maybe it's an admonition to others like Bridget Kelly. We're digging up and throwing dirt all the way back from the high school era--do you really want us to go there with you??
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:15 AM on February 2


Christina Genovese Renna, director of departmental relations in the governor’s office, resigned last night.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:31 AM on February 3


Why in the world would Christie think that it makes his judgment look any better to trash his own appointee??? This is truly bizarre.

Yeah, that letter is such an unbelievably bad piece of PR management it really looks like Christie's just panic-stricken at this point--which suggests that he thinks evidence is going to come out that ties him to the lane closings. It's hard to imagine what goes through someone's mind when they write a letter like that, other than the desperate desire to strike back at someone who they perceive as having betrayed them. But surely "looking petty and obsessed with revenge" was the last thing Christie should have had on his "to do" list right now?

What's particularly weird about it is that Wildstein wasn't even threatening (at least overtly) anything all that damaging to Christie's story. Evidence that Christie knew about the closings while they were happening isn't all that material. The only thing he really needs to fear on that story is evidence that he knew about them in advance.
posted by yoink at 1:34 PM on February 3


CNN says the Hoboken story doesn't check out all the way.
Also she's probably corrupt too.
That's the thing a lot of this shit, it takes two to tango.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:30 PM on February 3




Christie's letter about David Wildstein is certainly bizarre.

He brings up things from high school (He was accused by his social studies teacher of "deceptive behavior",) says that his time as mayor was controversial, he was "a political animal who frightened people," and perhaps most damning of all, he was Governor Christie's eyes and ears inside the port authority.

Let's take a moment to reflect upon who exactly invented the position inside the port authority and then appointed this terrible character to the port authority to frighten people as he spied for Christie.

Why in the world would Christie think that it makes his judgment look any better to trash his own appointee??? This is truly bizarre.


Makes perfect sense. The high school part was meant for Wildstein personally. Christie is personally pointing something out to Wildstein, not to the rest of the world. Its a fuck you, basically.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:39 AM on February 4


Apparently Christie can't even lie properly in his spittle-flecked rants about high-school:

Christie's 'High School' Attack On Wildstein Has One Big Flaw
In a response memo reportedly sent to friends and supporters, Christie's office offered "5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That's Not A Bombshell." Among the accusations Christie's office leveled against Wildstein: that he "was publicly accused by his high school social studies teach of deceptive behavior."

But the story apparently didn't end there. According to the Record, it ended with Wildstein and the teacher agreeing that there had been merely a "misunderstanding."

The incident occurred in 1979, when Wildstein was a high school student and running for a seat on the Livingston, N.J. school board. Wildstein asked a teacher, Albert Adler, to sign a piece of paper -- which turned out to be a letter endorsing Wildstein's candidacy. The letter later appeared in a local weekly newspaper under Adler's name, and Adler then told the newspaper that he did not write the letter. He even issued a statement suggesting that he had been the victim of "political manipulation."

But a few days later, Wildstein and Adler patched things up. According to the Record, they issued a joint statement to the weekly newspaper on April 10, 1979, saying the episode had been “an honest difference of opinion” and “basically a misunderstanding.”
posted by zombieflanders at 10:08 AM on February 5


The job of director of interstate capital projects had only one person ever to work in that capacity. And the job has been eliminated since the man for whom it was created is no longer there.

No one really seemed to know what that business was supposed to be doing. But whatever he was doing, he made it clear he did so at the behest of the governor.

Wildstein was hired by former Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, with the blessing of Gov. Chris Christie. Emails and other revelations now seem to indicate his job title may have been just a cover for serving the political interest of the governor.

"On many occasions I heard both he and Baroni say they have only one constituent: Chris Christie," said a former official, one of two who asked for anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize colleagues still at the agency.

posted by leftcoastbob at 10:44 AM on February 5




More subpoenas being issued, looking into where the helicopter flew. The helicopter he used to get to work during the bridge closing, that is.
posted by annsunny at 5:44 PM on February 10


Chris Christie’s long record of pushing boundaries, sparking controversy
Back in Washington, Christie’s bosses were concerned about the appearance of several deals he struck with corporations that agreed to change their ways if they weren’t charged in cases involving financial irregularities.

These out-of-court deals, once rare, started becoming more common among federal prosecutors under the Bush administration.

Typically, U.S. attorneys appoint independent monitors, who often receive millions of dollars in fees paid by the companies.

Justice Department officials were uncomfortable about seven agreements Christie signed over the years, because he had appointed political allies and supporters as monitors in some of the cases.

One group of cases in particular drew a lot of attention. Five makers of orthopedic devices were found to have paid what prosecutors characterized as kickbacks in the form of consulting fees to surgeons who used their products. The monitors chosen to oversee each company’s progress were considered close to Christie. Among them was former state attorney general David Samson, whom Christie eventually would appoint to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he still works as its chairman.

Another Christie-appointed monitor was Republican John D. Ashcroft, who as U.S. attorney general had been Christie’s boss. The fees for Ashcroft’s firm to oversee Zimmer Holdings were not cheap — an estimated $28 million to $52 million for 18 months of work.
posted by peeedro at 10:31 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think I have it.

This is a two-failure mode scandal.

I can't say everything, but (1) connect The NJ Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the selection of which areas get Sandy Disaster Area status, allowing for large ($100 million+) tax credits to a certain developer, in a certain town, at a certain time . . .

connect that to, the goodies that are normally given away in return for an endorsement. Legal goodies, like tax breaks.

In other words, Mark Sokolich's endorsement was desperately needed because the campaign couldn't give a person who didn't endorse the goodies that their donor needed. So they needed that endorsement not for the re-elect, but for the donor.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Something to keep in mind through all this talk about misappropriated Sandy funding:
Christie vetoed the bill that would require oversight of how the billions of dollars in federal aid to NJ was distributed.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:25 AM on February 17


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