Archive for investigation

Chris Christie accused of interfering with New Jersey ethics agency

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ethics schmethics

Three former New Jersey Ethics Commission officials are accusing that stalwart of honesty and decency, Chris Christie, of messing with a state agency. A member of Christie’s staff-- an executive assistant who worked for Bill Stepien and Bridget Anne Kelly, just by the way-- "used her state email account to influence her county health department to handle some feral felines on her property." Allegedly. And that would be a no-no.

Yes, stray cats are now part of the Christie saga. The story picks up from there. NJ.com has the goods:

By the time it was over, the executive director of the ethics commission was out of a job at the request of the governor’s office, replaced by one of Christie’s own lawyers, who was later given a judgeship by the governor.

Now, three former commission officials, breaking four years of silence, are accusing the governor’s office of unprecedented interference with an agency set up to be free of political influence.

Christie, they say, pushed the agency commissioners to replace the executive director — at a time when she was investigating a member of his own staff — thus crossing a line no other governor had before.

What? Governor Ethics played political chess with jobs for cronies, because "the governor wants his own person"? Governor Heartbroken meddled in an ongoing investigation? Governor I Know Nothing... crossed a line? Who'da thunk it?

Did I mention that the person he wanted to kick out was a Democrat?

One former state senator and former Ethics Commission vice chairman, a Republican, said it was the first time a governor had "asked for the commission’s top investigator to be removed, or suggested his own candidate lead the agency."

Of course, Governor Who Moi? is denying everything, as he is wont to do.

Speaking of scandals, the AP is reporting that "a judge has given New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other defendants more time to file a response to two lawsuits related to lane closures at the George Washington Bridge."

Much more on the ethics complaint story here.

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Rick Perry lawyers up for criminal investigation of bribery, coercion, abuse of authority (VIDEO)

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oops rick perry smaller

Rick Perry lawyer statement investigation bribery

Texas Governor Rick Perry, that quick thinker who couldn't remember his third talking point during the 2012 presidential debates, is lawyering up. There is a criminal investigation underway into whether he illegally withheld money from the Travis County district attorney's office.

Oops.

And now he's hired high-powered lawyer David Botsford to prove that Rick Perry, who swearstogod he broke no laws, broke no laws. The real nail-biter? Watching to see if Rick Perry can come up with three reasons why he's innocent.

Via KLBJ news radio:

Governor Rick Perry has hired a high powered attorney to represent him in an upcoming trial where he will defend himself against accusations he illegally withheld money from the Public Integrity Unit, a part of the Travis County D-A's office.  Perry cut funding to the unit during the last legislative session when Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down from office after being convicted of drunk driving.

Rick Perry vetoed a budget item after the District Attorney was arrested for a DUI and then refused to resign. So yes, he may have "illegally withheld money," $7.5 million, from the Travis County District Attorney's office.

Oops.

Via KVUE, an ABC affiliate:

The hiring comes as a special Travis County grand jury is set to be seated Monday to hear evidence into whether Perry broke state laws concerning bribery, coercion and abuse of authority.

It's grand jury time in Texas! So GOP, how's that family values, reinvention thing working out? And your insistence that Republican governors are awesome? *coughChrisChristiecough*

Oops.

Get out the popcorn.

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Slut shaming, gossip: Chris #Christie's taxpayer-funded million dollar PR defense

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chris christie report bridget kelly slut shaming

you're a whore case closed slut shaming

Yesterday Team Christie cleared Chris Christie in a "report" by a firm that donated to his campaign; it was a laugh out loud over the top PR document that repeatedly relied on slut shaming to make its case.

Rachel Maddow made mince meat out of it, as did Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word":

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

Why on earth would Bridget Kelly's personal life and how her love life was going and whether or not Bill Stepien dumped her be relevant to that political question? ...

Bridget Kelly never spoke to the lawyers doing this investigation...

So what they've printed throughout the report is gossip about what they heard about their relationship and how it was going. They just gratuitously bring that up as they blame the whole thing on her. In real life, this is called "slut shaming." I'm not sure what they call it in New Jersey politics, but it's amazing to see it in this report that New Jersey taxpayers have paid for.

$1 million in public money spent to produce this report which blames the bridge scandal without explanation on the fact that this lady in the office was having a tough time in her love life. Amazing.

... This is also the law firm that governor Christie's office has hired essentially to put together the governor's defense in this issue. The governor's defense as federal prosecutors continue to pursue potential federal criminal charges related to this scandal.

There's no indication right now that Governor Christie is going to be indicted in this matter, but today's report looks very much like a ready criminal defense if that would become necessary. A would-be defense prepared at taxpayer expense and previewed for all of us at a length of 360 pages today.

And as they have rolled out the governor's legal defense today, they also did it in conjunction with a public relations rollout, the governor granting his first one-on-one interview tonight since the scandal broke.

...They actually published no new documentation of the scandal at all....

This is called protesting too much. The guy who did the lane closures says Chris Christie knew about it while it was happening. He says he told him while it was happening. There are pictures of them together on the day and at the occasion where the guy says it happened.

There is still no purported explanation from the governor's lawyers or the governor, himself, as to why this happened if it wasn't political retaliation directed from the governor's office, and this is his million-dollar defense.

This is the best he's got. and New Jersey taxpayers, you paid for it. Well, they did get that incredible detail that Mayor Zimmer once yawned. So i guess there's that.

chris christie report christie crying

And as mentioned at the top, Lawrence O'Donnell had a field day with the report whitewash as well as with former two-time Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien's response to it:

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Team Christie clears #Christie in report by firm that donated to his campaign

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chris christie cartoon via FB team christie

chris christie bridgegate report by firm who donatedLink

Randy M. Mastro, the Team Christie lawyer who led an internal investigation of Bridgegate, held a news conference. In his self-serving little press event, Mastro pretty much laid out Chris Christie's legal defense. He also released a relatively meaningless, but lengthy, report by the gov's pals at the legal team of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher,. Christie hired them at the cost of more than a million taxpayer buckaroos.

The account was missing a little something though: It didn't include interviews with key players David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly. But it does allege that the plan to close the George Washington Bridge lanes was orchestrated by Wildstein and approved by Kelly, Christie’s now-fired deputy chief of staff.

It also fails to reveal their motives.


The New York Times has the story:

The Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge said that he had informed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey about it at a Sept. 11 memorial while the closings were occurring, according to the findings of an internal investigation released on Thursday by lawyers for the governor.

The official, David Wildstein, told Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, of the Sept. 11 conversation at a dinner in December just before his resignation from the Port Authority, according to the report.

The report said that Mr. Christie did not recall any such conversation, and it found no evidence that he was involved in the scheme, which snarled traffic for thousands of commuters in Fort Lee, N.J., from Sept. 9 through the morning of Sept. 12. [...]

At times, it reads like a point-by-point defense of the governor.

The old "I don't recall" defense. What's not to believe?

One reporter asked, “Why should this not be seen as a whitewash?” Indeed.

The New York Times has much more here. Click here for the full report.

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WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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First She Lied In GOP Reply To SOTU, Now Her Party Turns On Her Ethics

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Cathy McMorris Rodgers

You know you must really have some enemies when the GOP doesn't have a problem with your blatantly lying in the official party reply to the State of the Union address, but they jump on you for other actions. How heinous can they be?

The seemingly lone Republican female face on that great party of inclusion, the GOP, now has a whistleblower problem. One of Congressperson Cathy McMorris Rodger's (R-Wash.) former aides says she played a little footloose and fancy free (oh, you gotta love those old descriptive slang expressions) with official re-election funds. The aide accuses her of abusing official funds and co-opting them for her personal gain, a committee chairmanship. In case you didn't know, yes, these seats are contested and in many cases bought with promised favors and of course, re-election cash. Who determines who gets them? Ask Speaker John Boehner.

Oh, and here's the kicker to this breaking story: It's not the Democrats who are singling her out for her alleged indiscretions. It's the House Ethics Committee, chaired by Republican, Michael Conaway.

From Politico:

GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces a possible House Ethics Committee investigation over allegations by a former staffer that she improperly mixed campaign and official funds to help win a 2012 House leadership race.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the Ethics Committee conduct a full probe into the case.

Well, certainly this is a bit of a stain on the woman who so charmed us so with her skewed, lightly tangential official reply to the President's State of the Union address a few short weeks ago. Until now, this mostly invisible congressperson was only paraded out in the public spotlight when the Republicans wanted to show that they had some members of the female persuasion in their caucus. The lie she told about a woman's insurance premiums going through the roof under Obamacare was instantly jumped on by the press and exposed as a blatant lie. Since that revelation that she wasn't being truthful in her SOTU reply, she had sneaked off (or was banished) to hide out of plain sight. Lay low. Looks like low just hit a new benchmark, in low-ness.

Hmm. I guess it's not just Boehner, Cantor and McConnell in the upper ranks of the GOP hierarchy that have a problem with straight talk and honesty. Maybe McMorris Rodgers is innocent of these charges. But her accuser in this action is a committee dominated by her own party members who are calling her out on this irregularity, an ethics violation.

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Amusing Scott Walker news items

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scott walker dumb look

So this happened: State appeals court rejects challenges to WI John Doe probe targeting conservatives.

And now, this happened, courtesy of Wisconsin Public Radio:

Gov. Scott Walker won't say whether the $86,000 his campaign recently paid attorneys was connected with the latest John Doe investigation. [...]

The previous John Doe investigation, which concluded last year, resulted in the arrest of several former Walker aides who worked for him before he was elected Governor.

That should go over well when he announces his 2016 presidential run. Or maybe, if we're lucky, he'll entertain the nation with his best Chris Christie/Sergeant Schultz impression: "I see nothing! know nothing!"

Then there was this amusing headline from htrnews.com: Walker says he senses no gay marriage 'movement.' What?

First, where does Scott Walker get off suggesting he has any sense? About anything? Oh, but I kid, that was just a play on words that popped into my noggin.

But that doesn't change the fact that he is as in-sense-itive (read: tone deaf) as the rest of his GOP buddies. Did it slip Walker's little pea brain that marriage equality is here to stay, and that he and his fellow GOPers are relics of some black and white TV, Wonder Bread, the-little-woman-baking-cookies-in-high-heels-and-an-apron, real men don't date other real men past? Relics with very little national voter appeal?

Psst! Scottie! Take a gander at this:

Polling shows increased support for legalizing gay marriage in Wisconsin and dozens of lawsuits have been filed across the country challenging similar laws.

walker world

Speaking of attorneys, should you ever need one, Barry Scheck is one of the best. He tops a list that we provide, found at the very bottom of the right sidebar.

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