Michele Brown

Christie hires Michele Brown as appointments counsel

Governor-elect Christopher Christie has named former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown as his appointments counsel.

During the campaign for governor, Brown, a close friend of Christie’s, figured prominently into Democratic attack ads over a $46,000 loan Christie gave her when he was U.S. Attorney that she continued to pay back.  Days after that revelation from NJN – and subsequent reports from the New York Times that Christie failed to pay taxes on the loan income and file it on financial disclosure forms -- Brown resigned from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, saying she did not want to “become a distraction.”  In October, the New York Times reported that Brown personally interceded to deal with FOIA requests from the campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine. 

Brown started working at the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in September. 

Christie also announced nine other senior staff members, some of whom have already been introduced.  Five of Christie's 10 senior staffers served under him in the U.S. Attorney's Office: Brown, Rosemary Iannacone, who will be director of operations; Jeff Chiesa, who Christie tapped as chief counsel; Kevin O'Dowd, who will be deputy chief counsel; and Deborah Gramiccioni, who has been New Jersey's Director of the Division of Criminal Justice since 2008 and will become director of the authorities unit. 

Below is the full list of senior staffers:

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Reading between the lines

Gov.-elect Christopher Christie told the Star-Ledger that he would not rule out appointments for Ralph Marra and Michele Brown, two of his top colleagues at the U.S. Attorney's office. 

"People who have real problems won't be in the administration. People who have problems that are contrived for attempted political advantage won't be hurt by that.  That doesn't necessary mean they're going to be in, but if they're not in, that won't be the reason why they're not," Christie told the Star-Ledger's Claire Heininger

Christie could also be talking about former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino, who stepped out of the spotlight after he became a campaign issue during the primary election.

Marra has been mentioned, although not by Christie or any of his top advisors, as a possible candidate for Attorney General.  Brown had been viewed as a likely candidate for a top administration post until Democrats made her into a campaign issue.

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Lautenberg: 'pattern of behavior over time raises serious concerns and warrants investigation'

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) sent a letter to the Department of Justice today seeking an investigation into reports that Republican Christopher Christie was campaigning for Governor while still serving as the state's federal prosecutor.  Lautenberg cites published reports that individuals in the U.S. Attorney's office were coordinating some political activity with Christie.  And Lautenberg notes that the first meeting between a government cooperating witness and Democratic officials occurred the day after Christie's former counsel, Michele Brown, attended a campaign event at the candidate's Mendham home.

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Lautenberg says DOJ 'must initiate an investigation' into Michele Brown matter

New Jersey’s senior U.S. Senator has called for a Justice Department investigation into whether former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown aided former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie’s gubernatorial candidacy when she was still at the office.

"It is shocking to learn that a former deputy to Chris Christie was conducting a political campaign within the U.S. Attorney's Office,” said U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) in a statement.  "It was particularly distressing that this raw political agenda came into an office with a historic reputation for fair and unbiased dispensation of justice, and Ms. Brown went so far as to try to bring political campaign objectives into the planning of law enforcement actions.   The Department of Justice must initiate an investigation into this matter.”

The New York Times broke the story on its Web site last night, citing three unnamed federal law enforcement officials who claimed that Brown wanted to move up the date of the July corruption sting to ensure Christie got credit for it, and was more involved in dealing with the Corzine campaign’s Freedom of Informaiton Act requests than previously disclosed.

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Voters split on Brown & Katz as campaign issues

About two-thirds of New Jersey voters (66%) have heard something about Christopher Christie giving a personal loan to a former federal prosecutor who worked for him.  Of those who are aware of the Michele Brown loan, 43% say it is a legitimate campaign issue and 49% say it would be an unfair attack:

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Quinnipiac: Christie 47%, Corzine 37%, Daggett 9%

Quinnipiac: Christie 47%, Corzine 37%, Daggett 9%
Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie has a ten point lead over incumbent Jon Corzine in the race for Governor of New Jersey, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll

A new Quinnipiac poll shows Gov. Jon Corzine trailing Republican Christopher Christie by ten percentage points, 47%-37%, among likely voters, with independent Christopher Daggett running third with 9%.

An August 11 Quinnipiac poll had Christie leading 46%-40%, with Daggett at 7%. 

Corzine has upside-down approvals of 34%-60%, and has upside-down favorable of 34%-57%.  Christie has favorable of 41%-30%, while 87% of likely voters don't know much about Daggett.

 "Christie wins on many questions and he is pulling away from Corzine in a three-way matchup, with a double-digit lead," said Maurice Carroll, the poll director.  "Daggett's candidacy is just chipping away at the edges as he fails to climb out of single digits."

Nearly one-quarter of Democrats (26%) are not voting for the governor.  Christie is getting 15% of the Democratic vote, while 7% is going for Daggett.   Among independents, Christie leads Corzine 46%-30%, with Daggett getting 16%.  Christie gets 86% of the Republican vote, with 8% for Corzine and 4% for Daggett.

Of the 77% of likely voters who have seen one of Corzine's ads about Christie giving federal monitor contracts to Bush administration officials, 56% say the attacks are unfair and 36% view it as legitimate campaign issue. By a 59%-34%, independent voter say the issue is unfair.

Nearly half of voters (49%) who are familiar with charges, claims or attacks in the race for governor consider Corzine's attacks on Christie for giving a $46,000 personal loan to former federal prosecutor Michele Brown as unfair, while 43% call it fair.

Voters are split 45%-47% on whether it's fair to criticize Corzine for his personal relationship with former CWA President Carla Katz, and on Christie's ads criticizing Corzine for failing to guard against economic collapse.

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Quinnipiac will release new poll tomorrow

Quinnipiac University will release a new poll on Tuesday morning featuring a head-to-head matchup between Gov. Jon Corzine and his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.  This will be the first Quinnipiac poll since news of a personal loan made by Christie and his wife to Michele Brown, a top career federal prosecutor until her resignation last week.

An August 11 Quinnipiac poll had Christie leading Corzine 46%-40% among likely voters in a three-way matchup.  Independent Christopher Daggett was at 7%.  

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NJ 101.5: Christie ticketed for driving unregistered, uninsured car in '05

NJ 101.5: Christie ticketed for driving unregistered, uninsured car in '05

Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie was issued traffic tickets in 2005 for speeding, driving an unregistered vehicle and driving without insurance but was allowed to drive the vehicle home, Millennium Radio’s Kevin McArdle reported this afternoon.  

McArdle said that the three tickets had the words “no deal” written on them.”  

Christie later pleaded guilty to some charges, paid a large fine and signed an affidavit.  The speeding fine was reduced, McArdle reported, while the unregistered vehicle charge was dismissed.   A spokeswoman for Christie acknowledged that “the fact that Christie was U.S. Attorney did come up.”

Also in the car with Christie during the traffic stop was his wife, children and former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown, who resigned from the No. 2 spot yesterday after Christie’s $46,000 loan to her became a campaign issue. 

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In letter to Holder, Pallone makes his case against Marra

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Representative Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) charged that Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra has “completely compromised any sense of neutrality” and committed a “serious breach of ethics” in written comments he made to his office’s staffers.

In an email announcing First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown’s resignation, Marra wrote that the office -- which was run by Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie until December -- “has been unfairly drawn into a political campaign through the barrage of FOIA requests; the purported controversy over Michele's personal loan, and a wholly trumped up (and then apparently leaked) complaint, reportedly about my generic and general comments at the Bid Rig press conference and the timing of the Bid Rig takedown.

“The dedicated professionals in that office have no agenda and work in a professional, non-partisan manner to make sure the law is properly enforced.  His internal e-mail appears to be an attempt to make basic requests for information appear to be somehow unfair and ‘political’” wrote Pallone.   

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Katzenbach says federal prosecutor would have been ousted for talking politics with the White House

Katzenbach says federal prosecutor would have been ousted for talking politics with the White House
New Jerseyan Nicholas Katzenbach, right, then the Deputy U.S. Attorney General, confronts Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who blocked the door of the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of Black students in 1963

Former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach says he can't imagine Robert F. Kennedy didn't talk to Democratic leaders about running for the U.S. Senate while he was still Attorney General, but says that it's a different situation than Chris Christie talking to Karl Rove.

"The Attorney General doesn't do the investigations of cases or determine what cases should be brought in any event," said Katzenbach, a Princeton resident who served as the Justice Department's No. 2 under Kennedy and currently lives in Princeton.  "I think if a U.S. Attorney had called anybody political in the White House without first consulting the Attorney General, whether it was me or Bobby Kennedy, he would have been asked for his resignation."

Katzenbach, 87, became Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy was sworn in as a Senator from New York in 1965.  Katzenbach served in that position for almost two years, from early 1965 to late 1966, before being appointed Under Secretary of State.

A registered Democrat, Katzenbach said that he has not taken an active political role in anything since he testified against impeaching President Bill Clinton in front of Congress in 1998.  In an interview with PolitickerNJ.com last year, he called Christie's appointment of former Attorney General John Ashcroft to a no-bid federal monitoring contract "inappropriate" and "as wrong as it can be."

Gov. Corzine's campaign pounced on this month's revelation that Christie spoke with former Rove - President George W. Bush's political point man - about a potential gubernatorial run while he was still U.S. Attorney.  Christie dismissed the conversations as "social," but Corzine, other Democrats and an outside ethics watchdog group think have called it a potential violation of the Hatch Act

Katzenbach said that, given the alleged politicization of the Justice Department that took place under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Rove's involvement in it, Christie should have avoided any conversations with Rove.

"Things have changed, and there was a great deal of effort to politicize the department of justice in the Bush Administration," he said.  "I thought that would have made it even clearer that it would be a very bad judgment to talk to somebody like Karl Rove if you were the U.S. Attorney."

But Katzenbach said that he did not see anything wrong with Christie's $46,000 loan to former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown two years ago, when he was still U.S. Attorney.  Brown resigned yesterday, writing in her resignation letter that she did not want to be a "distraction."

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 19th

NBC News: Federal charges ruled out for Christie in Bridgegate scandal NBC News tonight is reporting that federal investigators say after nine months of investigating Bridgegate there is 'no evidence" that Gov. Chris Christie had advance knowledge about any politically motivated scheme around the bridge lane closures at the...


Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >


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(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“The fact is that they’ve been digging around for eight months now and have found absolutely nothing. Wrap up your work. Do your job." - Gov. Chris Christie

- PolitickerNJ


Should the Joint Legisaltive Committee investigating Bridgegate 'wrap it up?':


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