It is rare for a politician to publicly deride efforts to boost voter turnout. It is seen as a taboo in a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals. Yet, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week slammed efforts to simplify voter registration.
Referring to Illinois joining other states — including many Republican-led ones — in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”
Christie was campaigning for Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the same-day registration bill into law in July.
Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, denounced the effort to boost voter turnout as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite the Illinois State Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Referring to the same-day voter initiative, Christie said Quinn “will try every trick in the book,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Christie said the program is designed to be a major “obstacle” for the GOP’s gubernatorial candidates.
The trouble with such rhetoric – beyond its anti-democratic themes — is its absurd assertions about partisan motives. After all, many of the 11 states with same-day registration laws currently have Republican governors.
In reality, same-day registration is all about turnout, not partisanship. According to data compiled by the think tank Demos, average voter turnout is more than 10 percent higher in states that allow citizens to register on the same day that they vote. Demos also notes that “four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same-day registration.” There was some evidence in Wisconsin that same-day registration boosted Democratic turnout, but the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison reports that “Republican areas also saw heavy use of the state’s last-minute registration law.” The registration system been also been adopted by such deeply Republican states as Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
Unlike Christie, most Republicans who have fought voter turnout efforts like same-day registration have argued that same-day registration would increase voter fraud. This has allowed the GOP to position itself as battling crime — not as trying to block legal voters. But the GOP has been unable to substantiate that voter-fraud claim, and there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Demos, for example, surveyed data from six states with same-day registration and found that “there has been very little voter fraud in [same-day registration] states over the past several election cycles.” In GOP-dominated North Dakota — which requires no voter registration at all — Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger, a Republican, reported that “voter fraud has not been widespread in North Dakota” and that there have been “very few known incidents of voter fraud” in the state.
Those findings confirm a recent analysis of primary, general, special and municipal elections by Loyola University professor Justin Levitt. He found that since 2000, more than a billion ballots have been cast in the United States and there have been just 31 credible incidents of voter fraud.
In light of that data, Republican efforts to prevent same-day registration and preclude voting betray a fear that has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with political power. Essentially, the GOP fears that when more Americans exercise their basic democratic rights, Republicans may have less chance of winning elections.
There are two tunnels under the Hudson shared by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. The pair of tunnels, which are more than a century old, are two of the only direct rail links between New York City and New Jersey. According to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the tunnels were used by over 160,000 local commuters each day in 2012. They are also a vital component of Amtrak’s crowded Northeastern Corridor, which runs from Washington D.C. to Boston. Boardman said the tunnels currently accommodate 24 trains per hour and shutting even one of them would mean only six trains would make it through each hour, a drastic reduction in service that would impact commuters and business travelers between D.C. and Massachusetts and all points in between.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the chairman of the Assembly’s transportation committee, told Business Insider Wednesday a shutdown in the Hudson tunnels would be “traffic Armageddon” for New Jersey commuters and Amtrak riders.
"For the people of New Jersey who rely on getting into Manhattan on a daily basis because of their occupation or trade, it’s an absolute, unmitigated disaster," Wisniewski said. "The Northeast Corridor will cease to function for all intents and purposes. The Northeast Corridor train will not exist effectively because of this. … We will have traffic Armageddon in the New Jersey/New York port area because of it. It is just too horrible to think of.”
Wisniewski said the “disaster” could have been avoided entirely if Christie had not stopped the ARC tunnel. Though he said he was surprised by Boardman’s prediction that a tunnel shutdown could come so soon, Wisniewski said lawmakers have always known the 100-year-old tunnels would not last forever. Wisniewski said Christie’s decision to kill that project “dashed away” the “20 years of planning that went into the first tunnel.”
Thanks again, Christie!
The Koch Brothers, The Star-Ledger And What Shrinking Newsrooms Mean In The Age Of Billionaire Donors
Back during the not-so-distant glory days of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger reign as a regional newspaper powerhouse, the Newark, New Jersey newsroom in the 2000’s was bursting with 350 journalists who covered the entire state and pocketed Pulitzers for their coverage of local politicians. Back when Tony Soprano made Jersey mob cool, each week during the show’s opening the fictional wise guy paid homage to the daily by sauntering down his driveway to retrieve the Star-Ledger.
That’s now all a memory. Last week, the Star-Ledger’s owner announced massive layoffs at the newspaper as part of a larger effort at consolidation. Today, entire sections of the Newark newsroom sit empty; a newsroom that has shed an astonishing 240 jobs since 2008, or two-thirds of its former staff.
All this, at a time when the Star-Ledger’s detailed, hometown coverage of the unraveling scandals involving Gov. Chris Christie had become must-reads for journalists and news junkies alike.
Philadelphia columnist Will Bunch called last week’s Star-Ledger pink slips for reporters the “best news” of Christie’s career. Why? “With fewer of them on the beat, Christie — and all the other corrupt politicians of the Garden State — will be able to keep more of their secrets from the public than ever before.”
Even before the scandalous lane-closings at the George Washington Bridge, the Star-Ledger, as Bunch highlighted, had ferreted out all sorts of unseemly transactions embedded in the boss-style politics that still dominates the Garden State.
But the sad news regarding the Star-Ledger isn’t just about the challenges New Jersey’s largest newspaper faces trying to cover the eleventh most populous state with a newsroom one-third its previous size. After all, the slow-motion decline of American newspapers has been on morbid display for years now.
The larger, disturbing question is what happens to newsgathering, and what happen to a democracy, when the cutbacks show no signs of abating while at the same time new, super-donor forces in American politics, led by people like the Koch brothers, exert unprecedented influence via staggering sums of money, misinformation, and faux news on the state level. And what happens when those players remain committed to operating behind a cloak of secrecy?
"We are going to consolidate ourselves right out of a democracy," quipped one New Jersey journalist last week.
It’s true that there’s currently a mini-boom in digitally-based data journalism, with several promising sites launching or planning to so so soon. But that brand of explanatory, often wonkish storytelling is separate from the traditional, day-to-day digging that dailies have done; the kind of reporting that sheds light on public officials and the intersection of money and politics.
Note that the Star-Ledger ”purge" unfolded the same week the United States Supreme Court, in a party-line 5-4 decision, eliminated further restrictions on campaign donations made by America’s super-rich. The Court also signaled it might be ready to do away with campaign finance regulations all together, a radical position now endorsed by the Republican Party. (“The Court’s decisions have empowered a new class of American political oligarchs,” warned campaign reformer Fred Wertheimer.)
Also note the Star-Ledger wipe-out arrived the same week that secretive super-donor and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to pen a self-pitying essay about the nasty attacks he allegedly suffers as he and his brother pump massive amounts of cash into conservative coffers and wage a relentless war against President Obama. It’s the same Koch brothers who shroud their political activities in secrecy and who often attack journalists who try to uncover the truth about them.
Charles and David Koch aren’t alone among right-wing donors eager to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Democrats and to permanently alter the political landscape. Aspiring Republican presidential candidates recently traveled to Las Vegas for the so-called Sheldon Adelson Primary; to court the casino billionaire who spent $92 million dollars in a failed attempt to defeat Obama in 2012.
Unlike Adelson however, the Koch brothers are helping to build an enormous, sprawling, and unprecedented infrastructure not only to help elect Republicans, including a Republican president, but to try to rewrite the laws across the country. And it’s all done in the name of curtailing government regulations; regulations that effect the brothers’ huge energy and chemical conglomerate, the second-largest, privately-held company in the U.S.
Just look at how Koch-backed groups were instrumental in defeating a vote by workers to unionize at a local Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. And how newspapers last year in Ohio cited a sham think tank, the Buckeye Institute, dozens of times and not once mentioned its ties to the Kochs.
The numbers behind the infrastructure, so far, are staggering. “The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors,” the Washington Post reported this year. “Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign.”
And a key to the operation, and one that’s so troubling for the future of news, is secrecy. The super-rich donors remain largely unknown and by design. The fact that news organizations could not determine how much the groups spent in 2012 until a year or two after the campaigns highlights the difficulty in penetrating those dark spaces.
"It is a very sophisticated and complicated structure," Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a University of Notre Dame Law School professor told the Post after examining the groups’ tax filing. “It’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”
Meanwhile, the Koch-affiliated infrastructure includes obvious efforts to obfuscate the truth. A key outlet within the Koch’s constellation is Americans for Prosperity, which “spent $122 million leading up to the 2012 campaign and has already spent more than $30 million in the past six months attacking Obamacare and Democratic senators up for reelection this fall,” according to The New Republic.
Purposefully and unapologetically peddling misinformation about pressing public policy initiatives that affect millions of Americans, the independent site Politifact has fact-checked 13 Americans for Prosperity attacks ads since 2010. Eleven have been tagged as inaccurate. Just two have been deemed to be even “half true.”
And then there’s the Franklin Center, “a multimillion-dollar organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting to local newspapers and other media across the country,” as Media Matters previously reported. “Funded by major conservative donors, staffed by veterans of groups affiliated with the Koch brothers, and maintaining a regular presence hosting right-wing events, the organization boasts of its ability to fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs.”
As one local newspaper editor put it, “It was basically a lobbying organization that linked to a news arm.”
So while once-thriving, independent newsrooms like the Star-Ledger continue to be bled dry, faux news operations like the Franklin Center are buoyed by secretive donations from right-wing billionaires.
That’s a dangerous equation for any democracy.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson denied the request by the committee to force Bridget Kelly, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie (R), and Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager, to turn over documents in response to subpoenas.
Kelly and Stepien were among the 20 individuals and organizations who received subpoenas in January for the committee, and they both then invoked their Fifth Amendment rights in response to those subpoenas. They had both been tied to the lane closures by their appearance in documents released in January. Kelly, who sent the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” was fired by Christie after the release of the documents. Stepien was asked to leave his role as a consultant to the Republican Governors’ Association, and to take his name out of the running for chairman of New Jersey’s Republican Party.
The committee and lawyers representing Kelly and Stepien went back and forth for weeks before taking the matter before a judge. The committee’s ability to obtain documents from both of them was seen as a crucial measure of its ability to conduct a full investigation.
In her opinion, Jacobson wrote that the issues raised by the committee’s case “require the court to delve into complex areas of law that balance important individual constitutional rights with the investigatory needs of government authorities.”
"With only a few United States Supreme Court decisions as precedents, such case by case analysis in the unusual procedural posture of this case forces the court into largely uncharted waters," Jacobson wrote. "Nonetheless, this court must wade into these muddy doctrinal waters in order to decide the issues in these cases."
In response to the ruling, one of the Democrats leading the committee, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), issued a statement saying the committee will now “consult with its counsel and consider its options.”
"The committee felt it was very much in the public interest to seek to compel the production of these documents, but as we’ve said before, there’s more than one method to gather information in an investigation, and we will consider alternatives," Wisniewski said. "We will continue exploring every avenue to find out what happened with this threat to public safety and abuse of government power.”
The attorney who represented Stepien in the case, Kevin Marino, offered his own statement in response to the ruling, calling it a “complete vindication of Bill Stepien.”
"Three months ago, this innocent man was banished without cause from positions of trust and respect that he earned through fifteen years of diligence and excellence that made him the finest political consultant in America," Marino wrote. "The time has come to acknowledge that a mistake was made."
h/t: Eric Lach at TPM
Twenty-three grand jurors on Friday heard testimony from Michael Drewniak, press secretary to Gov. Chris Christie (R). Drewniak’s attorney, Anthony Iacullo, told ABC News his client was not a target of the investigation.
"I’m not going to get into the specifics as to what would be discussed in the grand jury," Iacullo said. "I would say though that Mike is a witness and we have been assured that he continues to be a witness throughout these proceedings and Mike has continued to cooperate as requested by the government into this inquiry."
In January, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey confirmed that it was looking into the lane closures, which caused a multi-day traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. in September. But as ABC News reports, the existence of the grand jury confirms that the matter has evolved into a criminal investigation. Last week, a legal team representing Christie’s office released a report claiming the governor had no role in the closures, and pinning blame for the plot on two former Christie allies: former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.
ABC News on Friday also reported that a team of state prosecutors in New Jersey are monitoring the federal case, and “are prepared to continue the investigation on the state level if the feds turn it over to them.”
h/t: Eric Lach at TPM
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.
The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.
Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”
While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.
A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”
In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”
Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.
Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”
Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.
As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):
Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.
Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.
Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.
If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.
Are you ready for the JOTD? (Joke of the day) Chris Christie’s lawyers are proclaiming Gov. Chris Christie is innocent of any wrongdoings in the Bridgegate scandal…
With his office suddenly engulfed in scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey two months ago summoned a pair of top defense lawyers from an elite law firm to the State House and asked them to undertake an extensive review of what had gone wrong.
Now, after 70 interviews and at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by state taxpayers, that review is set to be released, and according to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings.
As if Bridgegate wasn’t enough, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration just made one move that’s angered both the right and the left: Essentially banning beloved electric-car maker Tesla from the Garden state.
New Jersey motor vehicle officials approved a rule Tuesday that would require all car companies to sell their vehicles through franchised dealers instead of directly to customers. The move essentially prevents Tesla from selling cars in New Jersey because the electric vehicle maker owns its own stores. Most auto makers sell vehicles through franchises.
On April 1 the company will stop selling cars in the state.
The blow by a Republican governor delivered to liberal and environmentalist darling Tesla sparked outrage among conservatives too, many of whom view it as an unnecessary government intrusion into the free market. Libertarian website, Reason.com, criticized the Tesla ban in a post Tuesday, saying it came from “the school of ‘anything not permitted is prohibited.’ ”
The ban comes after big lobbying push by the auto dealers. The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers spent upwards of $150,000 on lobbying efforts last year and dozens of individual car dealers and dealership groups donated heavily to the governor. In all, Christie received more than $60,000 in donations from dealerships. At least $40,000 of that amount came in the general election when the governor accepted state matching funds, so each dollar was worth $3 in the governor’s coffers, according to the NJ.com.
Tesla blasted the decision in a blog post Tuesday, arguing that it’s “vital” for the company to introduce its own cars to potential buyers in order sell them on the merits of going electric.
“This is an affront to the very concept of a free market,” the company wrote in the blog post.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts told the Associated Press Tuesday that officials made clear to Tesla that the company would have to go through the New Jersey legislature to legalize its direct sales model.
"This administration does not find it appropriate to unilaterally change the way cars are sold in New Jersey without legislation, and Tesla has been aware of this position since the beginning," Roberts told the AP.
Texas and Arizona have already banned the Tesla sales model. But as the Verge points out, New Jersey has a much larger luxury car sales market than either of those two states. Tesla sells just one model, priced at $71,000.
Ohio is also considering banning the Tesla model.
Despite the pushback from lawmakers, Tesla has been on a tear over the past year. The stock is now hovering near $250 — last year it was under $50.
Chris Christie’s 2016 chances he had left may have eroded completely with his foolish move to ban Tesla from his state. To note: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a possible 2016 GOP Presidential nomination contender, has banned Tesla in his state.
Straw Polls: Rand Paul wins #CPAC2014 Straw Poll, Ted Cruz wins Senate Conservative Fund’s Straw Poll
The results are in for the CPAC and Senate Conservatives Fund straw polls for the 2016 GOP primary.
Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll for 2nd year in a row.
While over at the SCF version, Ted Cruz won that straw poll.
31 KY Senator Rand Paul
11 TX Senator Ted Cruz
9 Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
8 NJ Governor Chris Christie
7 Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
7 WI Governor Scott Walker
6 FL Senator Marco Rubio
3 TX Governor Rick Perry
3 WI Congressman Paul Ryan
2 Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee
2 LA Governor Bobby Jindal
2 Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
2 Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice
1 Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
1 OH Governor John Kasich
1 IN Governor Mike Pence
1 OH Senator Rob Portman
1 SD Senator John Thune
1 Business Executive Donald Trump
1 Former FL Congressman Allen West
* NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
* KS Governor Sam Brownback
* SC Governor Nikki Haley
* NM Governor Susana Martinez
* SC Senator Tim Scott
Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald):
Here’s a screen grab of the full CPAC straw poll results. pic.twitter.com/pefHfo5WSb— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald)March 8, 2014
Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) - 42.46% (17,605)
Sen. Rand Paul (KY) - 17.38% (7,207)
Gov. Scott Walker (WI) - 10.42% (4,322)
Other Write-in Candidates - 6.50% (2,696)
Fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR) - 6.29% (2,608)
Gov. Rick Perry (TX) - 4.44% (1,841)
Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) - 2.47% (1,025)
Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) - 2.27% (943)
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) - 2.00% (828)
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) - 1.64% (680)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) - 1.26% (522)
Fmr. Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) - 0.93% (386)
Gov. John Kasich (OH) - 0.72% (299)
Gov. Mike Pence (IN) - 0.47% (195)
Gov. Nikki Haley (SC) - 0.40% (165)
Gov. Susana Martinez (NM) - 0.34% (140)
A total of 41,462 votes were cast.
Just because Gov. Chris Christie, who was notably banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, spoke at the event Thursday doesn’t mean he is the conservative media’s new darling.
While the New Jersey governor drew loud applause from the audience during his address, which focused on Republicans pushing for their ideas not against their opponents, right-wing media voices at the conference say that won’t translate to support if he seeks the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Some pointed to his well-known embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy in the lead-up to the 2012 election, which may have played a role in the decision by CPAC organizers not to invite him last year. Others declared him insufficiently opposed to gay marriage to garner their support.
"I don’t think he will be the nominee anyway," said Tom Constantine, a conservative radio talk show host. "There are ups and downs, it’s the nature of politics that he will be knocked down. Chris Christie is the right guy for Republicans in a Northeast state, but not nationally."
Tea Party News Network’s Scottie Nell Hughes agreed. She said he is hurt by the George Washington Bridge scandal, but was not her choice even before that.
"It hurt him completely," she said of the bridge controversy. "He is not going to get the conservative vote. It wasn’t a non-issue, it was politics."
Hughes said the media coverage of the scandal does give Christie some sympathy, but not enough to overcome opposition within the right-wing movement. “If I am going to put him up against [Wisconsin governor] Scott Walker, I am going to take Scott Walker,” she said, adding that Christie “is not going to get the vote. The [GOP] establishment has left him.”
Several media commentators said they were surprised that CPAC had invited Christie and found no difference in his electability or conservative credentials since last year.
"You would think it would be the other way around," said John Moseley, a conservative talk radio host at Philadelphia’s at WNJC-AM, suggesting that Christie should be less palatable to CPAC in the wake of the bridge scandal. "A lot of people perceive it as an endorsement, they should not."
Rusty Humphries, the veteran talk radio host and newly-minted columnist at The Washington Times, also said inviting Christie was a mystery. “Would I have invited him? No. He isn’t conservative. He is an establishment guy.”
Breitbart News’ John Sexton called CPAC “a refuge for” Christie. “I think last year he was more electable,” Sexton added. “I don’t think right now anybody is supporting him.”
H/T: Joe Strupp at MMFA
Scott Walker may be the next Chris Christie — and that’s trouble for Republicans: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes | The Raw Story
MSNBC host Chris Hayes said on Wednesday that the revelation of tens of thousands of emails from a former staffer puts Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in much the same boat as a fellow prospective GOP presidential candidate — his New Jersey counterpart…
The borough of Fort Lee, N.J. on Tuesday responded to an open records request from lawyers representing the office of Gov. Chris Christie (R) by sending them thousands pages of internal documents related to the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Earlier this month, attorney Randy Mastro, who has been retained by the governor’s office, asked the borough to produce “any and all” documents and correspondence in its possession related to the lane closures, including documents related to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and and any documents or correspondence related to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and conversations with the Christie campaign or the subject of a Christie endorsement. The request also asked for any related documents that Fort Lee and its officials had released to media outlets, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In a response letter to Mastro sent Tuesday, the Fort Lee’s clerk wrote that most of the attorney’s request exceeded the borough’s “statutory obligations” regarding open records. But “notwithstanding,” the borough was producing “documents in its possession where the responsiveness is readily apparent, and which have already been a matter of public record.”
"This includes documents that are readily available due to the existence of antecedent public records requests and inquiries from investigative agencies, which were then publicly released," Borough Clerk Neil Grant wrote to Mastro. "Although the Borough is unable to conduct the comprehensive research project sought through Requests Nos. 1-3, upon information and belief, the results, if any were responsive, should largely be subsumed within the response to Request No. 4, together with the additional records that have been located to date."
"Request No. 4" refers to Mastro’s request for documents released to media outlets.
"In this regard, the Borough is prepared to produce 2,204 pages of documents, consisting of file documents that have been produced to the Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New Jersey Legislature, and to various members of the news media."
TPM has obtained copies of the documents released to Mastro. Read them below, and if you see anything worth noting, send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fort Lee Docs” in the subject line.
When the editorial board of The Star-Ledger of New Jersey gathered last October to consider an endorsement for governor, it was clear their support for Gov. Chris Christie was lukewarm at best. Even the board vote was an unusual split decision, 3-1, in favor of Christie, according to Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran.
Four months later the board has done an about-face, unanimously agreeing that they now regret the endorsement and, in the words of Moran, admitting they “blew this one.”
"Yes, we knew Christie was a bully," Moran wrote in the February 9 column. "But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno."
The endorsement U-turn follows growing evidence tying Gov. Christie’s administration to the so-called Bridgegate scandal, in which Christie aides shut down several approach lanes of the busy George Washington Bridge for four days in September, deliberately sparking traffic tie-ups in the town of Fort Lee as a means of political retribution.
Christie fired the aides in question when their role became public, and the issue has sparked demands for more information on what the governor knew and triggered legislative and criminal investigations into the incident.
"We had a severe case of buyer’s remorse after endorsing him," Moran said Monday, a day after publishing an unusual column announcing the board’s change of heart. “Since his re-election, we have learned some new things about him. We learned that his senior staff was willing to put people’s lives at risk to make a political point on the bridge, we’ve learned that the Hoboken mayor has credible charges of criminal activity by the Lt. Governor and a couple of cabinet members, and we see more and more evidence that he is misusing [Hurricane] Sandy funds for political purposes.”
The Star-Ledger's editorial board began questioning potential ties to the bridge lane closing in December when Christie's top appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, resigned. Bill Barino, the agency’s deputy executive director, stepped down as questions arose over who ordered the lanes closed.
But Moran said he began to regret the endorsement once the scandal really broke open on January 8 after emails tied to a Christie deputy were released that showed top people in his administration were linked to the shutdown.
But even before the Bridgegate scandal broke the endorsement drew mixed reactions.
CNN offered surprise in a piece that said it was “hardly a glowing endorsement,” while Business Insider's Josh Barro wrote: “Christie got the Star-Ledger's endorsement even though they think he's 'a catastrophe on the environment,' even though he's refused to meet with their editorial board at any time since he was elected (a fact the Star-Ledger editors groused about in their editorial), and even though Christie mocked Star-Ledger editorial page editor Tom Moran as ‘the thinnest-skinned guy in America’ to uproarious laughter at a 2010 press conference.”
But MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow may have offered the most critical attention to the endorsement in an October 21 segment in which she declared, “It’s one thing to damn him with faint praise. This is praising with robust damnation. This is the weirdest newspaper endorsement I have ever seen. What a truly bizarre decision.”
After first taking a few shots at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his attacks on former high school friend David Wildstein, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart lamented the decision by many of the pundits in our media to treat Christie with kid gloves.
Stewart surveyed the media’s reaction and found that most were advising caution before rushing to judgment on Christie. “Where’s your rush to judgment?” the Comedy Central host asked. “Where’s the immediate eulogies for his political career? The swift, impatient justice in the court of public opinion? You know? The news.”
“If this measured approach thing catches on, I’m out of a f***ing job,” Stewart concluded.
Chris Christie is corrupt to the core.
By John Amato February 1, 2014 10:21 pm The heat on Gov. Chris Christie continues to rise following the Bridgegate scandal and that was made evident by a crowd of people booing him at a pre-Super Bowl function. Gov. Chris Christie’s popularity continues…