I will assume you have seen this story, since it is now everywhere. Proudly broken by us here at NJN News, by the way.
Rather than rehash some of the details that have been widely disseminated, lemme try and point out a few things that have not.
Unlike Corzine’s loans ( yes, there have been a few ) Christie’s loan to a ( then ) subordinate in the US Attorney’s office was to be paid back with interest. In this case 5.5%. That is below market since in October of 2007 the average rate on a 30-year fixed was roughly 6.3%. Christie says the 5.5% seemed like a fair rate, and it sounds like it certainly was ( for Michele Brown at least ). But here are a couple of questions…
If this was truly an altruistic gesture for a friend, why charge interest at all??? And why wasn’t it refinanced when rates dropped after that unprecedented market dislocation began last Fall. Certainly they could have found a bank that would have offered a lower rate and would have allowed Christie to be paid off…thus avoiding any unpleasant entanglements should said protaganist feel the need to throw his hat into the ring for Governor of NJ. Christie says he simply “hadn’t thought about it.”
Well, it sounds like he didn’t think much about this since he didn’t seem to anticipate it going public and also failed to disclose the interest as income on federal disclosure forms, an ELEC report or his tax return from 2007. His 2008 return has an extension and has yet to be filed.
There is also this lingering question about who in the office knew what and when. Christie says Ralph Marra, the Acting US Attorney knew about it, as did the “whole front office.” Well didn’t someone question the wisdom of this? I mean aren’t these people supposed to be the cleanest and most ethical people in NJ???? We have now determined that Christie was thinking about a run for Governor as early as 2006 when he spoke to Karl Rove on the phone. Christie also says the question came up so many times during his tenure that he once needed to issue a press release denying that he was planning to run.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office said they won’t have any further comment since they like to keep the office separate from the “political season.” Well, that seems like a wise idea…but then why does everyone in the front office know about this financial arrangement between the now Republican Gubernatorial Candidate and Michele Brown? If this loan was made purely as an act of friendship ( as Christie claims ) it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. And if all these people in the office knew about it, why wasn’t it properly disclosed?
Finally, Christie promoted Brown twice…once before the loan and once afterwards. We have heard some grumbling complaints about favorable treatment toward Brown in the office, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for anyone to go public.
Someone very close to Christie told me that last night that Christie was a “nervous wreck.” I wonder why.