Sunday, March 18, 2007

Todd Christie and Goldman Sachs

Call me obsessed. My mind keeps trying to wrap around New Jersey's position on Gonzales' hit list in the U.S. attorney scandal, but stuff we presume to be partisan just doesn't add up. I'm trying to put together a timeline.

So, take a seat. This is a long one, but bear with me and I think you'll find it worthwhile. Help me out if you can, and please correct me if you think I'm wrong on any of it.

In January 2002, Christopher J. Christie had to stop his Bush Pioneer campaign fundraising when he was sworn in as Bush's appointee for New Jersey's federal attorney. Like U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his boss, Christie was criticized for never having tried a criminal case in his life, according to the Bayshore Journalista. Christie reportedly knew of his selection in September 2001.

In 2002, Chris Christie's younger brother, Todd, had tons of money to boost his own Bush contributions from a mere $12,000 to $400,000.

Todd Christie says not to worry our pretty little heads. It's simple. He got rich in fall 2000, just as the U.S. Supreme Court named George Bush president, because Goldman Sachs bought his Wall Street firm, Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, for $100 million. He continued at Spear Leeds as its CEO. (Indeed, Todd paid $3.8 million in 2001 to buy a Mendham home from a Fox executive -- a home he kept only a few months and that ended up sold back to another Fox executive, all with million-dollar price hikes at each change of hands.)

Goldman Sachs, you may remember, is the firm that made now Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, a very rich man when he was its CEO and took the investment firm from private to public.

Todd Christie resigned from Spears Leeds in 2003 when he found out the federal Securities Exchange Commission was probing him in a stock fraud scandal. More on exactly what kind of service Spears Leeds provided is here.

At the end of 2004, after Gov. James McGreevey's sudden resignation, brother Chris was widely seen as a shoe-in for the Republican nominee the next November for McGreevey's job.

Then April 2005 comes. Todd Christie is among 20 stock traders accused in a fraud case. The SEC alleges he committed more than 1,000 improper trades over four years when he managed trades on the NYSE floor as co-CEO of Spear Leeds. A New York Times editorial April 16, 2005, pointed out that even though Todd Christie got the fourth largest payout of the group, he faced only civil penalties while the three above him and the next 11 on the list all were indicted on criminal charges.

Keep in mind: The stock fraud case is out of a federal SEC probe under the Bush administration. Although U.S. lawyers and investigators are not supposed to be party-loyalist jobs, we learned in the past two weeks as the Gonzales Eight scandal unfolds that this has not been the approach for this White House.

In December 2004, then-U.S. Sen. Corzine announced his run for McGreevey's old job. In November 2005, Corzine trounced former Gov. Thomas Kean's son, Tom Kean Jr., a Republican.

Corzine is ostensibly a Democrat, but it's curious that he is considering some fiscal ideas that had been the hallmark of Republicans, such as privatizing government services. Gov. Christie Whitman in the '90s sold management of the DMV to Parsons, a traditional military contractor that at the time was on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to President Clinton's aversion to war.

Now, Mother Jones magazine reports Goldman Sachs, Corzine's old boss, stands to win big if New Jersey under Corzine opts to lease the management of our toll roads similar to how Whitman, who holds an MBA from Wharton, sold management of our DMV to one of her favorite corporate "charities."

Let's start an ongoing list of Chris Christie's targets, shall we?

* May 2003, Christie widely credited for "first big kill" -- former Essex County Executive James Treffinger, a Republican who was top contender for the party's candidate for U.S. Senate -- but that investigation began in 2000 and Treffinger was, well, fingered long before Christie showed up. Besides, in the end, none of Treffinger's Republican associates got jail time.

* Summer 2004, major Dem fund-raiser Charles Kushner, pleaded guilty to tax violations and witness tampering in an incident involving a prostitute in a blackmail scheme. Much ballyhooed, but Christie's best plea deal was either so minor or so politically charged that he did not require Kushner to cooperate with investigators to nail corrupt politicians.

* February 2005, arrests in Operation Bid Rig International Trucks bribery investigation, also begun at least a year before Christie appeared on the scene. Eight Republican and three Democrats were charged. But who can forget GOP ex-Keyport Mayor John Merla's cat-that-ate-the-canary grin at sentencing to Club Fed? What does he, and possibly Christie, know that the rest of us don't that makes him so pleased with his situation?

* Later in 2005, a few more Monmouth County officials nailed, including former Middletown Township Committeeman Raymond J. O'Grady, a Republican, eventually given 43 months in federal prison at Fort Dix for a corruption and bribes in an FBI sting.

* September 2006, sudden investigation into a nonprofit that leased property from then-state Sen. Robert Menendez, who was running for Corzine's U.S. Senate seat. The timely news "leaks" from Christie's office about records related to that nonprofit being subpoenaed from Mendendez' office -- within hours translated from GOP Talking Points right into media echo chambers as "Menendez under investigation" -- was just a little too fortuitous for the GOP for anyone but the most naive not to suspect partisan gamesmanship. Further, it has been pointed out that at the same time Christie went after this fish that now seems lost from his hook, he ignored suspect dealings recently convicted Dem fundraiser John Lynch has with GOP boss Jack Morris and Christie family friend state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, involving Aberdeen-Matawan and Keyport properties.

* January 2007, ex-Brick Mayor Joseph Scarpelli pleads guilty to taking a bribe from a yet unknown source. Talk on the street is a second Dem fish is on Christie's hook from the Lynch fishing trip, but still no explanation why no bait reserved to look at Morris' and Kyrillos' dealings with Lynch (or, maybe, just a fortuitous lack of news leaks in the case of Republicans under investigation?).

There are supposedly 100 notches in Christie's belt, according to Bob Ingle at Gannett's Statehouse Bureau. Can you help me find them?

Hat tips here to Bayshore Journalista's Jackie Corley and Their previous posts put together a few different, pertinent puzzle pieces.

Campaign finance records from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission reveal that in all the years before 2001, Chris Christie made two contributions totaling just $800 to the state Republican Committee. But from 2001 to 2004, Christie and his family donated at least $144,000, a lot of it in May and June 2001, the time when state Republicans were mulling who they'd recommend to Bush as his U.S. attorney here.

The Christie brothers' business associates, including Kyrillos, also donated generously to the state Republicans during that critical time Chris was being considered for recommendation. Does one hand wash another? Employees of Todd's New York company then donated $14,000 to Kyrillos' campaign in October 2001. In the three years Kyrillos held a committee chairmanship, the Christies and their associates gave the Kyrillos campaign $30,850.

What's the definition of pay-to-play? Both the Dems and the GOP in this state talk a lot about banning it, but they seem to point fingers at each other for the holdup. No wonder.


ewastud said...

You raise some very interesting questions, Molly. You seem to be taking a page from that other excellent investigative website, Cooperative Research led by Paul Thompson.

justacitizen said...

Very interesting. I'm looking forward to updates on this.

justacitizen said...

Very interesting. I'm looking forward to updates on this.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I just found it referenced over at Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see that accuracy is not getting in the way of your "story". This was great fiction, too bad so many facts are wrong. Do some research on Todd Christie before writing falsehoods.

Molly McCoy said...

Gee, I hope you come back anonymous May 8, because you forgot to leave even a clue about what facts you think are wrong or cite your sources.

This is an opinion blog, as noted in the profile. I drew my conclusions from the sources cited in the many links in this post.

Anon May 8, please read through them and reread my post. If you still think I've gotten something wrong, I sincerely want to correct it or update the news. I'm far from infallible, but I am well intentioned.

Jim33 said...

Gee, Molly, I think you've been visited by one of the Christie brothers LOL. You've made the big time!

That anonymous comment seems a little thuggish, not very lawyer- or stockbroker-like, so it's no wonder he would want to be anonymous.

Good luck on the Blogger's Choice. I'm going to go see about casting a vote for you now.

Shark Girl said...

It's good to see another person digging into this stuff. I'm working on filing a formal complaint. You've brought up some names I want to research and link to some people I'm digging information on...just in case...because you did mention one specific name I'm interested in. Though, I'm not going to say which name at this time (cause I want to see how they are related to what I'm digging up first). The name has come in my research but I shrugged it off because I was getting tired of researching. I need to eat some Wheaties and get busy again.

Here's my digging:

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