Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Christie, the Republican nominee to take on New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine this fall, appeared before a congressional subcommittee yesterday to answer charges stemming from his handling of contracts as U.S. attorney.
The contracts are already a familiar part of New Jersey political debate. Since Christie's hopes rest largely on his record of putting away more than 100 corrupt politicians, questioning his own ethics will be central to Corzine's strategy.
The congressional questioning, then, ran not surprisingly strictly along partisan lines, with Democrats complaining and Republicans defending. After the hearing, Christie told reporters:
"It's a political circus, and it's unfortunate that they're using the money of the taxpayers of the United States to perform this kind of political circus, but out of respect for the Congress, I came down here and I testified, and I testified forthrightly," Christie said.
Christie granted a monitoring contract worth upwards of $50 million to John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general. The New York Times:
He also found himself on the defensive over newly released e-mail messages indicating that he refused to intervene on behalf of a company that had objected to the high fees Mr. Ashcroft's firm was charging, including $750,000 a month solely to pay Mr. Ashcroft and two other executives.
He defended his decision to give a monitor contract to a former federal prosecutor, David Kelley, who had decided two years earlier not to seek charges against Todd Christie, Mr. Christie's brother, who had been accused of securities fraud.
"My brother committed no wrongdoing," Mr. Christie said, pointing out that neither the Department of Justice nor the Securities and Exchange Commission decided to pursue a case against him.
GOVERNING Politics is the place for news and analysis on campaigns and elections. If there's a ballot measure in California, a legislative election in Alabama, a mayoral election in Anchorage or a governor's race in Rhode Island, GOVERNING Politics probably is writing about it. We love everything about state and local politics, from polls and campaign ads to policy debates and demographic trends.