Christie: Corruption stymies New Jersey government

BY Jeff Frankel

Fighting political corruption is right behind fighting terrorism, said U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher Christie, who spoke at the University on March 27.

Speaking at the Bart Luedeke Center Theater to a half-full audience, Christie, a George W. Bush appointee, spoke about “Restoring Faith in Government: The Fight against Political Corruption.” He said his main job is to “protect [the American] way of life.”

“At every level [of New Jersey government], we’ve seen corruption,” he said.

Christie spoke here shortly after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired several U.S. Attorneys, allegedly through White House officials. His actions have brought criticism from both sides of the aisle and have drawn national media attention. Gonzales is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary on April 17, to explain his actions.

“We [U.S. Attorney Generals] understand the President can tap us on the shoulders and say, ‘It’s time to go, Chris,’” said Christie. He was responding to a question from Dr. Harvey Kornberg, of the Political Science Department, who criticized Gonzales.

During the speech, Christie said some public officials think that once they are in office, they are entitled to make tons of cash and be above the law. He said they “place self-service ahead of public service.”

“They think they are entitled to shake [people] down,” he said.

He pointed out one case in the Passaic Valley Water Commission, in Passaic County, where workers charged residents an extra $50 a month to keep the
water on.

“These workers are the lowest of the low,” he said.

In 105 cases involving elected and appointed officials, he and his team of assistant attorney generals have never lost in court, he said.

The fact that Christie spoke here shortly after the attorney general firings was purely coincidental, said Dr. David Rebovich, managing director of the Rider University Institute for N.J. Politics.

“We had arranged this well over a month ago,” he said. “The reason we asked him to come is really because the topic he spoke about, political corruption, and his prosecution against so many government officials.”

Christie may have come here for more political reasons, said Kornberg. He may want to run for Governor. Christie is a former Republican Freeholder from Morris County.

Christie also said New Jersey is too cynical and has a “bad attitude” toward elected officials. It is up to the voters to change that, he said.

“It’s time to say, ‘Enough,’” he said. “It’s time to take our state back.”

The event was sponsored by the Institute for N.J. Politics and the Hennessey Fund.

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