Did a top prosecutorial deputy to Chris Christie improperly use her position earlier this year to boost his run for governor — despite the candidate’s recent claim that she had done nothing to help his campaign?
The New York Times has assembled some pretty good evidence.
• Law enforcement officials in Newark and Washington have told the paper that in March, Michele Brown, Christie’s top deputy when he served as U.S. attorney, took over responsibility from another staffer for responding to a FOIA request from Jon Corzine’s campaign relating to Christie’s tenure leading the office. Among other things, Corzine’s team had asked for information about both Christie’s and Brown’s travel records, and about Christie’s expenses.
This summer, DOJ officials told Christie’s interim replacement to stop Brown from coordinating the FOIA response, because of the obvious conflict of interest, said a Times law enforcement source. That same day, said the source, Brown quit the U.S. attorney’s office.
• In addition, in June, she urged FBI agents and prosecutors to conduct the high-profile corruption arrests of more than 40 New Jersey lawmakers, officials, and rabbis before July 1. Brown’s colleagues told the Times that she had told them she did so to ensure the arrests were made before Christie’s permanent successor as US attorney took over — presumably to ensure that Christie got the credit. The arrests were ultimately made in late July, but they nonetheless appeared to benefit Christie, in part because his permanent replacement wasn’t installed until this month, and in part because much of the investigation that led to the arrests took place during his tenure.
In August, it was reported that Christie had made a $46,000 loan to Brown — a close ally and good friend — and had failed to report it on his tax returns and ethics filings. He described it as a loan to a friend in financial need, and said she had done nothing to help his campaign.
Prosecutors are prohibited, by law and DOJ policy, from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”