Chris Christie

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Chris Christie
55th Governor of New Jersey
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 19, 2010
LieutenantKim Guadagno
Preceded byJon Corzine
United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey
In office
January 17, 2002 – December 1, 2008[1]
Nominated byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRobert Cleary
Succeeded byRalph Marra (Acting)
Member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
In office
January 1, 1995 – January 1, 1998
Personal details
BornChristopher James Christie
(1962-09-06) September 6, 1962 (age 50)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Pat Foster
ChildrenAndrew (b. 1993)
Sarah (b. 1996)
Patrick (b. 2000)
Bridget (b. 2003)
ResidenceMendham
Alma materUniversity of Delaware
Seton Hall University
ReligionRoman Catholic[2]
Signature
 
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Chris Christie
55th Governor of New Jersey
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 19, 2010
LieutenantKim Guadagno
Preceded byJon Corzine
United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey
In office
January 17, 2002 – December 1, 2008[1]
Nominated byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRobert Cleary
Succeeded byRalph Marra (Acting)
Member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
In office
January 1, 1995 – January 1, 1998
Personal details
BornChristopher James Christie
(1962-09-06) September 6, 1962 (age 50)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Pat Foster
ChildrenAndrew (b. 1993)
Sarah (b. 1996)
Patrick (b. 2000)
Bridget (b. 2003)
ResidenceMendham
Alma materUniversity of Delaware
Seton Hall University
ReligionRoman Catholic[2]
Signature

Christopher James "Chris" Christie (born September 6, 1962) is the 55th and current Governor of New Jersey. Upon his election to the governorship in November 2009, Christie became the first Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey in 12 years. Christie, an attorney, previously served as United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey and as a Morris County, New Jersey Freeholder. In 2011, he considered entering the race for the Republican Presidential nomination but ultimately decided not to run.

Christie delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Contents

Early life, education, and family

Chris Christie was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Sondra A. (née Grasso) and Wilbur James "Bill" Christie, a certified public accountant.[3][4][5] His father is of Scottish and Irish descent and his mother was of Sicilian ancestry.[6][7][8][9] He was raised in Livingston, graduating from Livingston High School.[10] Christie graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1984 and Seton Hall University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1987. Christie was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Bar of the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in December 1987. After being elected the Governor of New Jersey, he was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Rutgers University, which is the state university of New Jersey, and from Monmouth University in 2010.[11] [12]

In 1986, Christie married Mary Pat Foster, a fellow student at the University of Delaware. After marriage they shared a one-room apartment in Summit, New Jersey. Mary Pat Christie pursued a career in investment banking, eventually working at the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald. She left the firm in 2001 following the September 11 attacks, only recently returning to work part-time.[4] They have four children: Andrew (born 1993), Sarah (born 1996), Patrick (born 2000), and Bridget (born 2003).[13] Christie and his family reside in Mendham Township.[14][15]

Early career

Lawyer

In 1987, Christie joined the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey. In 1993, he was named a partner in the firm. Christie specialized in securities law, appellate practice, election law, and government affairs. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association and was a member of the Election Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Morris County Freeholder

Christie, at the time a resident of Mendham, was in 1994 elected as a Republican to the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, with Christie and a running mate having defeated incumbent freeholders in the party primary. After that election, the defeated incumbents filed defamation lawsuits against Christie based on statements made during the primary campaign. Christie had incorrectly stated that the incumbents were under investigation for violating certain local laws. The lawsuit was settled out of court.[16]

As freeholder, Christie required the county government to obtain three quotes from qualified firms for all contracts. He led a successful effort to bar county officials from accepting gifts from people and firms doing business with the county. He voted to raise the county's open space tax for land preservation; however, county taxes on the whole were decreased by 6.6% during his tenure. He successfully pushed for the dismissal of an architect hired to design a new jail, saying that the architect was costing taxpayers too much money. The architect then sued Christie for defamation over remarks he made about the dismissal.[17]

In 1995, Christie announced a bid for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly; he and attorney Rick Merkt ran as a ticket against incumbent Assemblyman Anthony Bucco and attorney Michael Patrick Carroll in the Republican primary. Bucco and Carroll, the establishment candidates, defeated the up-and-comers by a wide margin. After this loss, Christie's bid for re-nomination to the freeholder board was unlikely, as unhappy Republicans recruited John J. Murphy to run against Christie in 1997. Murphy defeated Christie in the primary.[18] Murphy, who had falsely accused Christie of having the county pay his legal bills in the architect's lawsuit, was sued by Christie after the election. They settled out of court; nevertheless, Christie's career in Morris County politics was over by 1998.

Lobbyist

In 1998 Christie registered as a lobbyist for the firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, alongside fellow partner and later, gubernatorial campaign fundraiser Bill Palatucci. Between 1999 and 2001, Christie and Palatucci lobbied on behalf of, among others, GPU Energy for deregulation of New Jersey's electric and gas industry; the Securities Industry Association to block the inclusion of securities fraud under the state's Consumer Fraud Act; Hackensack University Medical Center for state grants, and the University of Phoenix for a New Jersey higher education license.[19]

United States Attorney

Christie served as the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey from January 17, 2002, to December 1, 2008. His office included 137 attorneys, with offices in Newark, Trenton and Camden. Christie also served as one of the 17 U.S. Attorneys on Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales' advisory committee.

Appointment

On December 7, 2001, Christie was nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, and sworn into office on January 17, 2002.

Controversy surrounded his appointment; some members of the New Jersey Bar professed disappointment at Christie's lack of criminal law experience and his history as a top fundraiser for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.[20] The extent of the role played by Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, also became an issue after Christie's law partner, William Palatucci, a Republican political consultant and Bush supporter, boasted that he had selected a United States attorney by forwarding Christie's résumé to Rove.[21]

Christie has stated that his distant familial connection to Genovese crime family leader Tino Fiumara never came up during his Federal Bureau of Investigation background check for his position as a U.S. Attorney; he told The New York Times in 2009 that he had assumed that investigators were aware of the connection.[22] During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Christie recused himself from his office's investigation, indictment, and prosecution of Fiumara for aiding the flight of a fugitive.[22] A 2011 commentary on MarketWatch identified Fiumara as Christie's aunt's husband's late brother and said Christie has dismissed the relationship as a "private matter".[23]

Achievements

Christie in 2004 as the United States Attorney for New Jersey.

Despite the initial misgivings over his degree of experience, Christie received praise for his history of convictions for public corruption. During his tenure, Christie's office won convictions or guilty pleas from 130 public officials, both Republican and Democratic, on the state, county and local levels without losing a single case.[24] The most notable of these convictions included those of Hudson County Executive Robert C. Janiszewski in 2002 on bribery charges,[25] Essex County Executive James W. Treffinger in 2003 on corruption charges,[26] former New Jersey Senate President John A. Lynch, Jr. in 2006 on charges of mail fraud and tax evasion,[27] State Senator and former Newark mayor Sharpe James in 2008 on fraud charges,[28] and State Senator Wayne R. Bryant in 2008 on charges of bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud.[29]

Claims of misuse of deferred prosecution agreements

Christie has been accused of using his office's role in crafting deferred prosecution agreements to award lucrative federal monitoring positions in no-bid contracts to friends, supporters, and allies.[30] Questions first arose after Christie awarded a multimillion-dollar no-bid contract to David Kelley, another former U.S. Attorney, who had investigated Christie's brother, Todd Christie, in a 2005 fraud case involving traders at the Wall Street firm, Spear, Leeds & Kellogg.[31][32] Kelley had declined to prosecute Todd Christie, who had been ranked fourth in the investigation—initiating a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaint among twenty traders who earned the largest profits for their company at the expense of their customers. The top three were indicted, as were eleven other traders.[33]

Christie was similarly criticized for his 2007 recommendation of the appointment of The Ashcroft Group, a consulting firm owned by Christie's former superior, the former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, as a monitor in a court settlement against Zimmer Holdings, an Indiana medical supplies company. The no-bid contract was worth between $28 million and $52 million.[34][35] Christie defended the decision, saying that Ashcroft’s prominence and legal acumen made him a natural choice. Christie declined to intercede when Zimmer's company lawyers protested the Group’s plans to charge a rate of $1.5 million to $2.9 million per month for the monitoring.[30][36] Shortly after the House Judiciary Committee began holding hearings on the matter, the Justice Department re-wrote the rules regarding the appointment of court monitors.[37]

Christie also faced criticism over the terms of a $311-million fraud settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Christie’s office deferred criminal prosecution of the pharmaceutical company in a deal that required it to dedicate $5 million for a business ethics chair at Seton Hall University School of Law, Christie's alma mater.[38][39] The U.S. Justice Department subsequently set guidelines forbidding such requirements as components of out-of-court corporate crime settlements.[40]

In June 2009, Christie was called before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its consideration of new regulations on deferred prosecution agreements. In his testimony, he defended his decisions to award no-bid, high-paying federal monitoring contracts to law firms that his critics say constitute a conflict of interest. Christie left the meeting after two and a half hours of questioning, against the requests of the Committee's chairman, stating that he had to attend to pressing business in New Jersey.[30][41]

Claims of partisan attacks

Christie at a town hall meeting in Union City, New Jersey February 9, 2011.

Christie has been criticized for subpoenaing Senator Robert Menendez during his contested 2006 campaign, just two months before the election.[42][43] Christie's aides have insisted that they initiated the action in response to an article that appeared in The Record, which reported that in 1994, when Menendez was a U.S. Representative, he had leased his former home to a social service agency that he had helped obtain federal financing.[42] The non-profit group paid Menendez more than $300,000 over nine years to rent the building. Menendez claims to have cleared the arrangement with the Congressional ethics office, a step that had also been reported previously by New Jersey newspapers.[42] According to Menendez, just prior to signing the rental lease, he cleared it by phone with a lawyer on the staff of the United States House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Following the subpoena, the lawyer, who no longer works with the Committee, came forward to say that while she doesn’t recall the conversation, it probably happened—and that if she were advising Menendez now, she would tell him—as she apparently did then—that there was nothing improper about the arrangement.[44] As of August 2009, nothing has come from the investigation.[42]

Cell phone monitoring and alleged entrapment

In 2005, Christie prosecuted the Hemant Lakhani terrorism case, in which the defendant claimed that he had been entrapped. In that case, Christie's office relied on an informant who had been dismissed by the FBI as unreliable for fabricating claims of terrorist activity. For more than a year, the informant, working with the U.S. attorney's office, solicited Lakhani for access to arms. Lakhani was unable to obtain anything until an undercover agent contacted him and supplied him with a fake missile. In an interview with the public radio program This American Life,[45] Christie brushed off suggestions that Lakhani was entrapped by law enforcement, defending the Lakhani prosecution.

In April 2009, the ACLU publicized records showing that Christie had obtained court orders authorizing warrantless cellphone tracking of people in 79 instances. Christie responded that the practice was legal and court approved. An ACLU attorney stated that federal law does not address cell phone or GPS use in surveillance and added that the ACLU believes a law requiring warrants for such use is needed.[46]

Governor of New Jersey

Christie filed as a candidate for the office of Governor on January 8, 2009.[47] In the primary on June 2, Christie won the Republican nomination with 55% of the vote, defeating conservative opponents Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt.[48] He then chose Kimberly Guadagno, Monmouth County sheriff, to complete his campaign ticket as a candidate for lieutenant governor. On November 3, Christie defeated Jon Corzine by a margin of 48.5% to 44.9%, with 5.8% of the vote going to independent candidate Chris Daggett.[49]

Christie took office as Governor of New Jersey on January 19, 2010. He chose not to move his family into "Drumthwacket", the official governor's mansion, and instead resides in a private Mendham, New Jersey, residence.

On February 9, 2010, he signed Executive Order No. 12, which placed a 90-day freeze on the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and established the Housing Opportunity Task Force to examine the State's affordable housing laws, constitutional obligations, and the effectiveness of the current framework.[50]

Christie at a town hall in March 2011

On February 11, 2010, Christie signed Executive Order No. 14, which declared that a "state of fiscal emergency exists in the State of New Jersey" due to the projected $2.2 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year (FY 2010).[51] In a speech before a special joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on the same day, Christie addressed the budget deficit and proposed various fiscal measures to close the gap. Christie also suspended funding for the Department of the Public Advocate and for the Office of the Child Advocate and called for their elimination.[52] Some Democrats criticized Christie for not first consulting them on his budget cuts and for circumventing the Legislature's role in the budget process.[53] In late June 2011, Christie utilized New Jersey's line item veto to eliminate nearly $1 billion from the proposed budget, signing it into law just hours prior to the July 1, 2011, beginning of the state's fiscal year.[54]

On August 25, 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced $400 million in federal Race to the Top education grants to New Jersey would not be funded due to a clerical error in the state's application made by an unidentified mid-level state official. Christie responded by saying that the Obama administration bureaucracy had overstepped its authority and that the error lay in an administration failure to communicate with the New Jersey government.[55] However, information later came to light that the issue had already been raised with Christie's Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, and in response Christie had asked for Schundler's resignation; Schundler initially agreed to resign, but the following morning asked to be fired instead, citing his need to claim unemployment benefits. Schundler maintained that he told Christie the truth and that Christie was misstating what actually occurred.[56] The New Jersey Education Association rebuked Christie by suggesting that his rejection of a compromise worked out by Schundler with the teachers' union on May 27 was to blame.

During his second year in office, Christie signed into law a payroll tax cut that reduced funding of the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) fund by $190 million per year. Effective for calendar year 2012, the tax cut authorizes the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to reduce payroll deduction for most employees from $148 to $61 per year. The changes took effect on January 1, 2012.[57] The authorizing legislation was sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner of Lawrenceville.

On January 23, 2012, Christie filed the first nomination to the New Jersey Supreme Court of an openly gay man, Bruce Harris, and an Asian American, Phillip Kwon. [58] Kwon's nomination was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first gubernatorial nominee for the Supreme Court in modern times to fail to be approved. [59] Two months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the nomination of Bruce Harris, purportedly on grounds that he lacked courtroom experience. [60] The partisan impasse over Christie's appointments to fill the vacancies on the New Jersey Supreme Court continues.

On February 17, 2012, he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey. He stated his belief that such a change requires a constitutional amendment and asked the legislature to provide for a referendum on the issue. He also called for creation of an ombudsman to ensure compliance with the state's existing civil union law.[61]

Continuing the tradition of earlier New Jersey governors since the 1980s, Christie traveled to Israel in April 2012.[62] His itinerary included Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, and the Golan Heights.[63][64] During the visit, which included meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Christie commented that "[Jerusalem] has never been better or freer than under Israeli control."[65][66] Christie subsequently called a helicopter tour of the West Bank "eye-opening", and cautioned against Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.[67] The official title given to the trip was "Jersey to Jerusalem Trade Mission: Economic Growth, Diplomacy, Observance".[68] The visit to Israel was Christie's first official overseas trip since taking office.[69] From Israel Christie continued with his family to Jordan, as guests of King Abdullah II.[70]

Consideration of presidential run in 2012 election

Christie was the subject of ongoing speculation that he would attempt a run for President of the United States in 2012 by competing in the Republican primaries. He consistently denied any interest in launching a presidential bid. In September 2011, a number of press stories cited unnamed sources indicating Christie was reconsidering his decision to stay out of the race. An Associated Press story dated September 30 indicated a decision on whether he would run for president in 2012 would be made "soon".[71] In a late September speech at the Reagan Library, he had again said he was not a candidate for president, but the speech also coincided with his "reconsideration" of the negative decision. One commentator at that time reviewed reported support from David H. and Charles G. Koch, Kenneth Langone, and others for Christie's potential candidacy.[23] Retired GE CEO Jack Welch went on Charlie Rose to articulate his and others' support for a candidacy,[72] and Langone went on the interview show October 4.[73]

On October 4, 2011, Christie acknowledged he had in fact reconsidered his decision but then, again, declined to run.[74] It was "for real this time", as one report put it. "Now is not my time," Christie said.[75] "New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me," Christie added in the one-hour Trenton press conference held to announce the decision.[76] On October 11, 2011, Christie endorsed Mitt Romney for president.[77]

On August 27, 2012, the New York Post reported that according to anonymous sources Christie had not been willing to give up the governorship to be Mitt Romney's running mate because he had doubts about their ability to win. The Romney campaign was reported to have asked him to resign his governorship if he became the vice-presidential nominee because "pay to play" laws restrict campaign contributions from financial corporation executives to governors running for federal office when the companies do business with the governor's state.[78] Christie gave the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention.[79]

References

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  2. ^ Christie chats with Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu, swarmed by fans, dated April 3, 2012.
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