Friday, November 13, 2015

NJ Watchdog: Corruption case undermines Christe claims as prosecutor

On the presidential campaign trail, Chris Christie boasts that he was a no-nonsense prosecutor above politics.

“The fact is that this Justice Department under this president has been a political Justice Department,” said Christie during last month’s debate on CNBC. If elected, he promised to nominate “an attorney general who will enforce the law and make justice more than just a word.”

But back in New Jersey, the Christie administration appears to be burying a corruption case involving Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, his second-in-command. An alleged $245,000 pension fraud occurred when Guadagno was Monmouth County sheriff in 2008, the year before she first ran for lieutenant governor as Christie’s running mate.

On Thursday, a New Jersey appeals court ruled the state attorney general’s Division of Criminal Justice must release two confidential documents to New Jersey Watchdog. Justices George S. Leone and Carol E. Higbee rejected a lower court’s decision to block release of the records as an “abuse of discretion.”

“We cannot agree that the fact the investigation concerned possible sensitive issues of public corruption weighs against disclosure,” the ruling stated. “In cases involving allegations of public corruption, transparency and the public’s right to know are particularly important.”

Guadagno made false and conflicting statements that enabled her sheriff’s chief officer, Michael Donovan, to improperly collect an $85,000 a year pension in addition to his $87,500 salary, as first reported by New Jersey Watchdog in 2010.

In 2011, DCJ began an investigation at the request of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System board of trustees. From the start, the probe was riddled with conflicts of interest.

Guadagno is a former deputy director of DCJ who had supervised or worked with many of its investigators. Yet Christie did not use his authority to appoint a special prosecutor or independent investigator under the State Constitution.

What happened to that investigation is a mystery slowly being revealed through years of public records battles between New Jersey Watchdog and the Christie administration.

The complete story is online at

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