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“Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power” -- Pp 99-106

“Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power” -- Pp 99-106

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Published by The Daily Caller
From “Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power” by Bob Ingle and Michael Symons. Copyright © 2012 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
From “Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power” by Bob Ingle and Michael Symons. Copyright © 2012 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

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Published by: The Daily Caller on Mar 07, 2013
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05/14/2014

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Copyright © 2012 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
 
Congress closely examined the U.S. attorney purge, starting in 2007, questioningwhether the offices were being used by the White House for political purposes. When wordsurfaced that Christie was on a version of the hit list, even fiercely partisan Democrats such asNew York’s U.S. senator Charles Schumer were stunned. “It’s befuddling,” Schumer said at aCapitol Hill news conference. “I was shocked when I saw Chris Christie’s name on the list lastnight. It just shows a [Justice] department that has run amok.” Fellow federal prosecutorsshared the sentiment. “It’s astounding,” said Patrick Meehan, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia.“Among his peers, Chris stands out as one of the most admired. If you were to create a list of the U.S. attorneys who have had the greatest impact, Chris would be one of the top two orthree names I’d put on it. This defies explanation.”
 
Christie foes had an explanation for his removal, and it had to do with an investigationof U.S. senator Robert Menendez.The Democratic senator was well connected to Jersey’s political bosses, including byextension the granddaddy of all of them, Frank “I Am the Law” Hague, who ruled out of JerseyCity from 1917 to 1947. In 1946, Hague backed William Musto for the state Assembly, where heserved nineteen years, followed by seventeen in the state Senate. Among the people Mustomentored was Menendez. When Musto was indicted for racketeering, fraud, and extortion,Menendez testified against his old friend, who was sent to prison for seven years in 1982. WhenMenendez ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, that testimony was presented as a young Menendezdoing the right thing by turning on Musto, though not all old-timers in politics agreed.
The New York Times
quoted Menendez opponent Bob Haney as saying Menendez worked his way upthrough the machine, then took over.
 
Star-Ledger 
columnist Tom Moran wrote, “Menendez isthe boss in Hudson County, which is ground zero for the state’s corruption problem.”Menendez had done well in politics as Union City mayor and member of the New JerseyAssembly and Senate and congressman— always pointing to his Cuban heritage and joiningSouth Florida residents in their hatred for all things Castro. He said his parents fled tyranny in
 
 
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Cuba.
Star-Ledger 
columnist Paul Mulshine tried to get the full story but wrote he couldn’t get astraight answer. “Menendez was born on Jan. 1, 1954, exactly five years to the day before FidelCastro came to power. By timing of his birth, it’s possible they left Cuba during the regime of Fulgencio Batista. One problem: Batista was a right-winger. You don’t make points with theCuban-American community by railing against right-wingers.” A July 2006 Star-Ledger story saidMenendez’s parents left under Batista, “seeking economic and political freedom.” Other biosonly said his parents were immigrants.Many saw Menendez as a Hudson County political boss. Even though he was inCongress,
The New York Observer 
said Menendez used his “fierce and unforgiving muscle toparalyze the government of Jersey City. And why? To teach a lesson to the mayor, a man namedGlenn Cunningham, who had run afoul of Mr. Menendez.”
 
Later, Cunningham, a former cop andMarine, took on the establishment in the Democratic primary for state Senate and beat old-timepol Joe Doria and his colleagues endorsed by the Hudson County power brokers on theMenendez team. Cunningham won the election, but five months after he was sworn in, died of aheart attack. Jersey City shut down and four thousand people went to the funeral. It was madeclear to Menendez he shouldn’t be among them. Christie delivered the eulogy.Jon Corzine appointed U.S. representative Menendez to finish the rest of his Senateterm—eleven-plus months— after Corzine became governor. Menendez then ran for a full term.Two months before the Senate election between Menendez and Tom Kean Jr., son of Christiementor and former governor Tom Kean, Christie’s office launched an investigation of a nonprofitorganization that rented property from Menendez.Menendez collected more than $300,000 in rent from the nonprofit and, while amember of the U.S. House of Representatives, helped the agency for which he was landlord getfederal grants. Employees of the nonprofit, the North Hudson Community Action Corp.,contributed $33,450 to Menendez campaigns.
 
It also named him its “man of the year” in 2001and named the lobby at its headquarters the “Congressman Robert Menendez Pavilion.” Itslease stated the agency’s ability to pay rent was dependent on the agency getting certainfederal or state funding.“I think it’s a conflict of interest for a congressman to do outside business with anorganization that receives so much federal money,” said Alex Knott, political editor for theCenter for Public Integrity. “The bottom line is that the congressman and his colleaguesindirectly control the purse strings of this organization.”
 
 
 
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Menendez said he had received permission to enter into the lease in 1994 from MarkDavis of the House Ethics Committee.
 
But a Capitol Hill publication said Davis didn’t work therethen and he couldn’t be questioned about it because he died the year before. A Menendezspokesman said it must have been someone else who gave permission.
 
Bob Perry, the Texas tycoon who helped finance the “Swift Boat” ads againstDemocratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, funded a TV ad for the New Jersey Senaterace that showed a mobster in a black leather jacket talking on a cell phone in an alley. “We gota problem . . .our boy down in Washington, Bob Menendez, he’s caught in this federalinvestigation . . . right . . . feds start looking into these fixed contracts, badabing, we’re in butdeep.”
 
At a convention of Democrats in Atlantic City, Menendez accused Kean of working withChristie. “Tom Kean Jr.’s entire playbook has been straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook andnow’s he’s even gotten the U.S. attorney involved.”
 
U.S. senator Frank Lautenberg, no friend of Christie’s then or as governor,called the probe “quite a coincidence. The timing raises a question mark.”
 
Corzine said it wasunfair to publicly reveal subpoenas sixty days before an election. Christie said sixty days hadbeen his office’s informal rule since before his arrival; the calendar showed the Menendezsubpoena dropped just a few days before that deadline. “Every year we have elections in NewJersey. If I shut us down for a longer period, we’d be in the freezer half the year,” said Christie.
 
Lautenberg and Menendez didn’t like Christie, and when they announced their supportof the nomination of Paul Fishman to replace him as U.S. attorney in 2009, a slap in Christie’sface was included. Menendez said the office should spend more time pursuing gangs, whichsome took to mean less time chasing political crooks. Fishman immediately made a fool of himself by saying he didn’t think New Jersey had a corruption problem and that referring to thestate in that way was demoralizing. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released in November 2009 showed65 percent of state residents thought there was “a lot” of political corruption and 26 percentthought there was “some.”Fishman himself had a tangled history with public figures that on occasion affected hisrole. As a private attorney, Fishman represented Corzine’s former girlfriend and union leaderCarla Katz and developer Encap Golf Holdings, both of which were investigated by Christie’soffice. The U.S. attorney in New York had to take over the Encap probe after Fishman recusedhimself.

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