Ralph Marra

Marra looking at NJSEA policy on VIP tickets

Gov. Christopher Christie has asked Ralph Marra to review the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s policy to hold back house seats for VIP’s.  Marra, a former Acting U.S. Attorney who is now the NJSEA general counsel, will look at the appropriateness of giving premier seats to the politically connected, and will consider the ethical implications of the current policy.  Marra is expected to report his findings directly to Christie.

In addition, the state Ethics Commission is scheduled to review the NJSEA policy on tickets at a meeting next week.  This is bad news for NJSEA chairman Carl Goldberg, who has played a role in securing some of the best concert tickets at Giants Stadium and at the IZOD arena for the politically connected. 

According to a Bloomberg report,  Gov. Jon Corzine’s office reserved 57 hard-to-get concerts tickets between the primary and general elections last year, and that 350 seats were set aside for elected officials.  All this happened as the state Attorney General filed a lawsuit against online ticket brokers, alleging illegal marketing tactics.

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N.J. Sports Authority CEO seeking Georgetown A.D. job

N.J. Sports Authority CEO seeking Georgetown A.D. job
Dennis Robinson

Dennis Robinson, the president and CEO of the financially troubled New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), is one of the finalists for the Athletic Director position at Georgetown University, according to sources familiar with the hiring process. 

Georgetown is seeking a replacement for Bernard Muir, who announced his departure last year to take a similar post at the University of Delaware.

The NJSEA has been under fire in recent months, and newly-elected Gov. Christopher Christie has said the operation is in “bad shape.”  Christie formed a commission last to seek recommendations on the future of the NJSEA, the Meadowlands, the state’s horse racing industry, and the embattled Xanadu shopping and entertainment center. 

This week, the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee will hold a special hearing to examine the future of the NJSEA and its future economic viability.  Robinson is expected to testify at the hearing, which is being run by Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen).

There has been considerable speculation in recent weeks that Robinson might be on his way out.  Christie recently announced that he was bringing in former Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, a close political ally, to serve as the NJSEA Vice President and General Counsel.

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For Fishman, a time for rebuilding

The exodus of federal prosecutors to state government continues with the announcement that Ralph Marra will join the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.  The departures of Marra, Marc Larkins, Michelle Brown, Jeffrey Chiesa, Charles McKenna, Kevin O’Dowd and others over the last year means that the new U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman, will need to completely rebuild the leadership team that served under now-Gov. Christopher Christie.

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Marra joining Sports Authority staff

Marra joining Sports Authority staff
Former Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra will become the top lawyer at the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority

Ralph Marra, a career federal prosecutor who served as Acting U.S. Attorney after Christopher Christie left to run for governor, is the new counsel to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.  His appointment was announced today.

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Dems, concerned about Lautenberg's mortality, look to block Christie from appointing a Republican to the U.S. Senate

The morbid reality for New Jersey Democrats is that Christopher Christie would appoint a Republican to the United States Senate if Frank Lautenberg, who turns 86 next month, dies in office.  That has caused a very real push by Democrats to change the state law before Jon Corzine leaves office.  But Democratic sources say that legislation introduced yesterday by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) that would require a governor to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy by a member of the political party is not the way they will go; Christie could appoint a friendly Democrat to the Senate - Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac or former Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, just as an example.  Instead, Democrats want to have a little more control. 

The most popular plan is the one used in Wyoming, where the state party organization of the party that holds the Senate seat submits three names to the Governor, who is obligated to pick from that list.  That's actually consistent with the way New Jersey fills vacancies for some other public offices.

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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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Fishman takes office

Paul Fishman was sworn in today as New Jersey's 54th United States Attorney just after 11AM in a private ceremony attended by his wife, two sons, his mother and his staff.  U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Greenaway, who is President Obama's nominee for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, administered the oath of office. "This is a tremendous honor and privilege," Fishman said in a statement. "For me, I am returning to an office I once served where I expect to build on its traditions of excellence, fairness and integrity in enforcing federal criminal and civil statutes." Fishman replaces Ralph Marra, who has been Acting U.S. Attorney since Christopher Christie resigned last December.

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At least temporarily, Marra will return to #2 post

There have been few clues as to Paul Fishman's plans for key posts in the U.S. Attorney's office after he takes the oath tomorrow morning.  For the time being, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra will return to his old post as First Assistant (Marra took over when Christopher Christie resigned on December 1), and Marc Larkins, who became Acting First Assistant following Michelle Brown's departure, will be the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney.  Larkins has held both posts since Brown left last month.

Fishman is not expected to make any immediate announcements regarding key personnel, but new U.S. Attorneys typically assemble their own team.  That may or may not affect Marra, a career federal prosecutor.

Eight years ago, the appointment of a First Assistant U.S. Attorney was part of the deal to convince then-U.S. Senators Robert Torricelli and Jon Corzine, to sign off on Christie's nomination.  Torricelli and Corzine reportedly insisted that they have input on the selection of Christie's second in command.

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King pleads guilty to extortion

Former Jersey City council candidate Jimmy King, a veteran of the Hudson County political scene with a deep resume in government, pleaded guilty today to accepting bribes from a federal informant posing as a developer.

King, 67, took two $5,000 cash payments from FBI informant Solomon Dwek during his unsuccessful campaign for a Ward C council seat earlier this year and agreed to accept more money after the election.  He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and is set to be sentenced on January 5.

“Although we are pleased with the outcome in the case against Mr. King, we cannot declare victory in our fight against public corruption,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun. “We continue to ask the public to contact us with information about corruption, no matter how insignificant one may think it is. We will treat every lead with confidentiality and urgency.”

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At the U.S. Attorney's office, Democrats could be back in control by the end of the month

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the nomination of Paul Fishman as U.S. Attorney for next Thursday. The full Senate typically votes on confirmations soon after committee approval; a delay would be suspicious. That means Fishman could be in control of the federal prosecutor's office in Newark by the end of September. 

Fishman now becomes a player in the race for governor.  Democrats have criticized Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, a Democrat, for delaying the release of documents requested by Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign under the Freedom of Information Act.  Democrats have accused the Office of the U.S. Attorney of deliberately delaying the release of the requested FOIA documents, inferring that they are trying to help Christie.  Marra has said the request involves considerable work, including the removal of legal papers that are not public, and says he's working with the FOIA office at the Department of Justice.  Once Fishman takes over, the decision to release documents related to his predecessor, Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie, will be is.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 12th

Stockton Poll: Christie approval rating at 53% in NJ; Obama's at 44% Gov. Chris Christie’s approval ratings in New Jersey crack 50%, while fewer voters approve of the job President Obama is doing, according to a Stockton Polling Institute poll released today. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) http://www.politickernj.com/81166/stockton-poll-christie-approval-rating-53-nj-obamas-44     NJ...

Op-Ed

White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >

Contributors

(9-10-14) Chief Justice Rabner Faces Funding Challenges as Top Court Administrator - Escalating legal fees for litigation is an unintended consequence of underfunding the Court System. ... more »
The Correct Foreign Policy – Neither Fortress America Nor Pax Americana      Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.  It started with the... more »
(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 Republican Governors Association raised $130,000 from tobacco companies during Christie’s stint as the group’s chairman, according to the most recent filings in June. The veto allows Christie to keep the peace with tobacco companies — and may very well prevent them from investing heavily in a presidential campaign for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose operatives could use the cash to finance attack ads against Christie in a tight primary contest." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

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