Nel's New Day

February 17, 2014

Gov. Christie – More than a Bridge

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:42 PM
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New Yorker cover.Chris ChristieNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has probably received more television minutes during the past few months than any other political figure, most of it devoted to a now-famous bridge between his state and New York. The major question is whether he is still a viable GOP presidential candidate for 2016. His humble, right-moving position shows that he’s working hard toward that position, but other GOP governors avoided him during his recent fundraising travels across the nation.

Christie has far more issues than having probably lied about helping to cause the serious and dangerous problems of the George Washington Bridge when his specially-selected underlings closed down two of the three toll lanes:

Much of the conservative media has dumped Christie: At the end of January, New Jersey’s biggest newspaper, the Newark Star Ledger, called for Christie’s impeachment if he doesn’t resign. The paper, which endorsed his re-election less than four months ago, also called for Christie to step down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. At the same time, the conservative National Journal reporter Ron Fournier, wrote a piece headlined “Why I Was Wrong about Chris Christie,” taking back his statement a year ago that “the smartest man in politics may be Chris Christie.”

Christie’s use of Superstorm Sandy’s relief funds is suspect: Emails indicate that Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer was right when she accused Christie of extortion for support in a development project in order to get Sandy relief funding. Hoboken requested $127 million in aid to initiate projects to prevent flooding from the Hudson River during future storms. The city received $342,000 of the $300 million in federal funds provided to New Jersey—a little more than 0.001 percent for a city of over 50,000. The city has thus far received about $6.57 for storm reparations out of a budget of $300 million.

Allocations of relief funding also showed a definite racial gap: blacks were twice as likely to be rejected for these funds as whites. As much as $6 million was given to a Belleville development project started before Sandy hit. The town’s Democratic mayor endorsed Christie for re-election less than two weeks after receiving the Sandy funds. 

Federal authorities are now investigating Christie’s possible mishandling of relief funds. Although many New Jersey residents haven’t receive help over a year later, Christie put $25 of federal money into ads that starred himself and his family—before his re-election. This money went to a company fully $2 million more than another bid from a company that did not offer to put Christie into the ads.

Christie’s political connections are suspicious:  Christie’s championing the corporation that runs the Community Education Centers, called the worst immigration detention centers in the nation, may have been connected to a former vice-president of these centers, Bill Palatucci, who chaired Christie’s 2013 re-election campaign. There is no proof of illegality, but the connection has an appearance of  a conflict of interest. Christie’s long-time law firm, Wolff & Samson, also received a great deal of business during Christie’s term: its lobbying business increasing from $40,000 annually before his first election to over $1 million a year following.

Christie also has an involvement in questionable real estate deals conducted by his brother, Todd Christie, including properties within walking distance of the Harrison (NJ) PATH station in line for a $256 million renovation funded by the Port Authority. In 2008 Todd Christie also acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged” in a settlement of civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Christie’s leadership didn’t help create jobs: Last December the state lost 36,000 jobs, the biggest drop in other decades at a time when the economy is growing. Only 7,000 private sector jobs were created last year.

Christie is a bully: “I am not a bully,” Christie told reporters in a press conference after text messages and emails were released showing that his deputy chief of staff was responsible for deliberately closing two lanes of the George Washington Bridge. His far-right supporters tried to defend the governor.

Fox network’s Brit Hume is blaming the women’s movement for Christie’s appearance of bullying.

“I have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct and are kind of old-fashioned tough guys run some risks.”

Hume kept going:

“By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like kind of an old-fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which we operate. This guy is very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”

Yet Christie’s body language and voice do not project the “old-fashioned masculine” guy. As Ezra Klein wrote: “He’s followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him.” His purpose is to create a feeling of power that conservatives think is lacking in the current GOP.

Videos in this Mother Jones article show that his bullying is not a one-time situation. 

Before Dawn Zimmer’s allegations, a poll showed Christie on a downhill slide. In a nine-point increase since October, 64 percent think that the word “bully” fits Christie, even after he apologized for his staff lying to him. The all-time low of whether Christie is trustworth—27 percent—shows a 16-point drop. Half the people see him as arrogant, five points up, and “self-centered,” 11 points up. The description of “fair” has dropped 11 points to 30 percent, and effective shrank to 44 percent.

Christie’s history of bullying goes back to high school. As starting catcher on the baseball team, he considered suing to block a better player transferred to his school from getting his position. His decision against suing was based on the town turning against him if the lawsuit resulted in forfeiting the season.

At the University of Delaware during the 1980s, Christie was accused of pushing people not in his tight-knit circle out of student government. Even after he graduated, he ensured that his future wife, Mary Pat, and brother, Todd, would keep major leadership positions.

Christie has proved to be a survivor: When Christie was a U.S. Attorney, primarily between 2005 and 2007, the Bush administration fired a number of U.S. Attorneys, causing the resignations of other U.S. Attorneys as well as many members of the Department of Justice from the U.S. Attorney General on down. The dumped U.S. Attorneys had refused to open meritless voter fraud or meritless investigations on Democratic politicians. Others were fired because they were investigating lawbreaking by Republicans. Those found acceptable were U.S. Attorneys who would cover up criminal activity and create bogus investigations against innocent people. Chris Christie met that requirement.

During his term, Christie was “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and someone who offered “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at exclusive hotels such as the Four Seasons, according to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in Double Down: Game Change 2012 about the GOP presidential campaign. When Mitt Romney considered Christie as his vice-president, vetters raised questions about “Christie’s relationship with a top female deputy who accompanied him on many trips.”

Christie also worked as a lobbyist for the Securities Industry Association when Bernie Madoff was a senior official there and tried to get an exemption from New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. Other problems for Romney came from the way that Christie steered large government contracts to donors and political allies such as former attorney general John Ashcroft. Christie’s actions sparked a congressional hearing.

Even Fox readers are beginning to understand the Christie problem. A response to an article critical of Chuck Todd’s and Rachel Maddow’s reporting on Christie reads:

“Until we hold our Republican political officials accountable for their  incompetence and /or dishonesty, we can’t call ourselves leaders.

“Spare me the “… Obama did this.”, ” … Clinton did that.” chorus.  I believed in Christie.  I relished every story of him bringing accountability and common sense to the government.  Then I read a story and saw pictures of him lunging at a woman half his size, sticking his finger in her face and screaming at her.  My enthusiasm for Christie waned.

“Now, I’m asked by Christie and his PR machine to believe Bridget Anne Kelly acted alone to satisfy a personal agenda.  I’m supposed to believe she solely gave the order to punish the citizens of Fort Lee because their mayor exercised his right to vote for and speak out on behalf of the candidate of his choice.  Well, I can’t.”

In an interview, Sarah Palin said, “I just don’t know all the information out there, but it’s hard to be the CEO of an organization and not know what the closest people to you are up to.”

One silver lining of Christie’s problems is that the conservatives have finally decided that he’s conservative enough for them. He got an invite to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference this March after failing the extremist yardstick last year. The question is which governor will be brave enough to stand next to him.

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