CHRISTIE’S NEW HEADACHE…. Over the summer, struggling badly, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s (D) campaign settled on a specific line of attack against Republican Chris Christie: he applies one set of rules to the public, and applies a different set of rules to himself.
Thanks to a barrage of negative ads, and some unfortunate revelations, the criticism started to stick and the polls improved for the incumbent. Now, with just two weeks left before Election Day in the Garden State, a story like this one may prove devastating.
When news broke in August that the former United States attorney, Christopher J. Christie, had lent $46,000 to a top aide in the federal prosecutor’s office, he said he was merely helping a friend in need. He also said the aide, Michele Brown, had done nothing to help his gubernatorial campaign.
But interviews with federal law enforcement officials suggest that Ms. Brown used her position in two significant and possibly improper ways to try to aid Mr. Christie in his run for governor.
In March, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign requested public records about Mr. Christie’s tenure as prosecutor, Ms. Brown interceded to oversee the responses to the inquiries, taking over for the staff member who normally oversaw Freedom of Information Act requests, according to federal law enforcement officials in Newark and Washington. The requested information included records about Mr. Christie’s travel and expenses, along with Ms. Brown’s travel records.
In mid-June, when F.B.I. agents and prosecutors gathered to set a date for the arrests of more than 40 targets of a corruption and money-laundering probe, Ms. Brown alone argued for the arrests to be made before July 1. She later told colleagues that she wanted to ensure that the arrests occurred before Mr. Christie’s permanent successor took office, according to three federal law enforcement officials briefed on the conversation, presumably so that Mr. Christie would be given credit for the roundup.
Gabriel Winant noted that the story is so embarrassing for Christie, “you’d think the governor wrote it himself.”
It’s not especially complicated. Christie extended a $46,000 loan to his friend Brown, and neglected to report it on his tax returns and ethics filings. That’s bad. When the story broke, Christie said Brown hadn’t helped his campaign, which was false. That’s worse. And Brown not only played a role in supporting the campaign, but seems to have played fast and loose with her authority. That’s much worse.
With two weeks remaining, this isn’t what Christie needed to help get back on track.