As U.S. Attorney, Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie gave high ranking staffer Michele Brown a $46,000 mortgage loan that she continues to pay off, NJN reported in its news cast tonight.
The report by correspondent Zachary Fink said that Brown has been paying Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, back in monthly increments of $499.22 since taking the loan in October, 2007. She is scheduled to finish payments in 2017.
Christie told NJN that Brown, who was the office’s fourth ranking staffer at the time of the loan and is now First Assistant U.S. Attorney – the number two spot under Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra – asked for financial help after her husband lost his job while facing credit card debt. He said there was nothing improper aboutthe relationship. Christie and his wife are close friends with Brown and her husband, who are their neighbors in Mendham.
“I’ll tell you that I just believe if you have friends who are in need that you help them, whether they work with you or whether they’re friends of yours from outside the work realm,” Christie said.
The disclosure of the loan could cause more tension between the Corzine campaign and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which the campaign has accused of stalling on its FOIA requests regarding Christie’s tenure there.
Update: Corzine campaign Communications Director Sean Darcy issued the following response to the story:
"This raises more significant questions and legal issues for the Christie campaign. We know that Michelle Brown has been attending Christie campaign events, we know we have had our FOIA requests bottled up for months and now we know that Chris Christie has an ongoing financial relationship with Brown. Are they still in contact? Have they been discussing this campaign? What impact has their ongoing financial relationship had on the gubernatorial campaign?
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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