Nutty and Slutty

In seeking to exonerate Chris Christie of Bridgegate, Randy Mastro of Gibson, Dunn goes back to the playbook used to discredit Anita Hill when she testified against Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991.  Hill was disparaged and dismissed as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

In his Bridgegate report, Mastro dismisses Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who claims she was threatened with denial of Sandy relief funds unless she approved a development project Christie wanted, as nutty.  Mastro provides photos of Zimmer yawning and smiling and argues — really — that people who feel threatened don’t yawn or smile.

As for slutty, Mastro offers us Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, who had an affair with Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, that ended just before Kelly ordered the lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge.  While Mastro doesn’t establish a  motive for closing the lanes, he thinks it has something to do with Bridget getting dumped by Bill:

“Like the others in the lane realignments, events in Kelly’s personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind. … Her first known communication to [David] Wildstein about the lane realignment in mid-August 2013, for example, occurred around the time that her personal relationship with Stepien had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s behest and Stepien and Kelly had largely stopped speaking.”   So Kelly may not have a face that launched a thousand ships, but she has a temperament that stopped a thousand cars.

Mastro blames the whole thing on Kelly and Wildstein:  “Mayor Sokolich also appears to have been targeted for some reason yet to be determined.  Whether Kelly had her own ulterior motive for doing so or was simply supporting her friend, Wildstein, is also yet to be determined.”

Fortunately, we have real investigations being conducted by the New Jersey legislature and federal prosecutors to figure out all this “yet to be determined” stuff, which will have a major impact on the “yet to be determined” 2016 GOP presidential nominee, who, I promise you, won’t be Chris Christie.

It’s easy for me, sitting in California, to laugh at this piece-of-crap report because, unlike the poor taxpayers of New Jersey, I didn’t help pay $1 million for it.  Although as a federal taxpayer, I did help Christie use Sandy funds to pay for ads he starred in to help his re-election.  Christie clearly loves to promote himself using other people’s money.

Christie may have lost 100 pounds since his obesity surgery, but he’s still full of shit.  Christie claimed at the outset of the scandal that he didn’t know about the lane closures before or during their occurrence.  But Mastro’s report notes that David Wildstein claims he told Christie at a 9/11 event while the lanes were still closed.  Mastro swats away this claim as no biggie, saying Christie doesn’t remember such a conversation, and he was very busy with people wanting their pictures taken with him.

I expect as the real investigations proceed, we’ll hear a lot more about Christie’s relationship with Wildstein and a lot less about Kelly’s relationship with Stepien.

Mastro pathetically tries to lift Christie up by kicking Kelly when she’s down.  But smearing Bridget Anne Kelly won’t make Bridgegate go away, and it sure as hell won’t make the GOP’s problems with women voters go away.

We’re Up to Four Mayors

Four Democratic mayors in New Jersey are now on record as claiming that Chris Christie bullied them:

Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee

Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken

Steve Fulop of Jersey City

Chris Bollwage of Elizabeth

As the list grows, more victims should feel comfortable joining it.  Safety in numbers.

“Cut from the Same Corrupt Cloth”

From “A Hostage to Christie in Hoboken,” Amy Davidson, The New Yorker:

chris-christie-dawn-zimmer-580.jpg

“The bottom line is, it’s not fair for the Governor to hold Sandy funds hostage for the City of Hoboken because he wants me to give back to one private developer,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer told Steve Kornacki, of MSNBC, this weekend. By Sunday, she said she was meeting with the United States Attorney’s office, showing them diary entries and other notes she made last May. That was when, she says, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno pulled her aside in a ShopRite parking lot (why is so much New Jersey state business conducted in parking lots?) for a few words about large sums of money.

There were two pools of cash: what a developer called the Rockefeller Group and others might make from four acres of North Hoboken, and what the city might get from a quarter-billion-dollar Sandy relief fund that Chris Christie had a say in distributing. At ShopRite, according to Zimmer, “with no one else around,” the Lieutenant Governor

says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the Governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward, or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right—these things should not be connected—but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone I will deny it.

Christie officials have now denied it, though the protestations have been flustered and, at times, demonstrably disingenuous and off point.

“I don’t know what they were trying to get in the Bridgegate, but I do know what they’re trying to get in Hoboken. They’re holding our Sandy funds hostage in order to get pushed through and expedite the Rockefeller project,” Zimmer told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

The Rockefeller project involved a skyscraper and surrounding complex across from Manhattan, in a densely populated area a short PATH train ride from the city. … Nineteen blocks were candidates for redevelopment. Strangely, a study commissioned by the state found that only three blocks were appropriate—the very three owned by the Rockefeller Group. …[T]he other property owners went to the planning board and “asked why ‘a redevelopment plan for the exclusive benefit’ of the Rockefeller Group would ‘[favor] a single property owner to the detriment of all other property owners in the North End Area.’ ” The board then voted not to accept the study, holding up the project. This was the heart of the problem, Zimmer said, that she was told to make go away.

 

Incidentally or not, the Rockefeller Group had hired the law firm of David Samson, Christie’s top appointee to the Port Authority.

 

“I thought he was honest. I thought he was moral,” Zimmer wrote of Christie in a diary entry, last May, which she’s now given to prosecutors. “I thought he was something very different. This week, I found out he’s cut from the same corrupt cloth that I’ve been fighting for the last four years. I am so disappointed. It literally brings tears to my eyes.”

 

If Zimmer really felt that way—if he had really hurt her—why would she smile politely and say hello? They have pointed to a tweet: “To be clear I am very glad Governor Christie has been our Gov.” The reason she had to be clear was that she wasn’t endorsing him for governor, something that, as we’ve learned, the Governor really wanted mayors to do. Even in her interview with Kornacki, she talked about Christie policies she admired. Zimmer didn’t sound like someone with a grudge; she described herself as someone who just felt stuck. Zimmer’s explanation for her silence is the same one heard in a lot of middle schools: she thought that she and Hoboken would have a harder time if she didn’t, and the people she wanted as friends wouldn’t be on her side. “I was really concerned that, if I came forward, no one believed me, that we would really be cut out of the Sandy funding,” more of which was on the table, she told Crowley.

 

Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty

 

Dear Mr. Bezos…

When Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post last August, the former ombudsman for the paper, Patrick Pexton, did an open letter to the new owner about what he considered “the good, the bad, and the ugly” at the paper.  The ugly was reserved for WaPo’s conservative political blogger, Jennifer Rubin.  Some excerpts:

“Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor…fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin.  Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad.  She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards.  She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. …

“Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman, and I’m leaving out the organized email campaigns against her by leftie groups like Media Matters.  Thinking conservatives didn’t like her, thinking moderates didn’t like her, government workers who knew her arguments to be unfair didn’t like her.  Dump her like a dull tome on the Amazon Bargain Books page.”

I too can’t stand the woman. During the 2012 campaign, Rubin was basically a Romney campaign staffer embedded at a major media outlet, writing gushing schoolgirl love letters to him.  She also focuses so much on Israel that she seems to think she works at the Jerusalem Post.

I’m citing the letter today because she has a post up at WaPo called “The scandal is MSNBC,” in which she says Chris Christie’s problems are all MSNBC’s fault.  She criticizes their allowing Hoboken’s mayor, Dawn Zimmer, to claim that her city was denied Sandy aid because she wasn’t playing ball on redevelopment for property belonging to Port Authority chairman David Samson’s law firm’s clients. 

The thing is, everyone is trying to figure out Chris Christie’s motivation for acts that seem punitive and retaliatory, like the Fort Lee lane closures.  That’s because the Governor himself isn’t offering an explanation beyond “mistakes were made.”  If he had wanted to come on the air before, during, or after Dawn Zimmer, or send a spokesman, MSNBC would have been delighted to have him.  Until he ‘splains in full, the non-Fox media are going to be searching for reasons.

In Rubin’s cock-eyed world, Watergate was the fault of her newspaper, not the Nixon administration.

Doesn’t Even Begin to Scratch the Surface

If you read one story today, make it “Hoboken Mayor: Christie Team Shook Us Down for Sandy Relief,” Brian Murphy, Talking Points Memo (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/hoboken-mayor-christie-team-shook-us-down-for-sandy-relief).

Some excerpts (but read the whole thing):

“Hoboken received only 1% of the aid they had requested for Hurricane Sandy relief and planning funds even though it was one of the hardest-hit communities in the state during the storm. At one point, 80% of the 50,000 person city was flooded. If you remember the footage of water gushing through an underground subway station, that was in Hoboken; it has, in fact, the highest per-capita use of public transit of any city in America. Yet so far the state of New Jersey has given the city about $350,000 from the billions of dollars in federal disaster relief and planning aid that it is charged with administering. That’s about $6 per resident. It has been enough to pay for one major planning study and to buy one backup generator for an $18 million emergency storm water pump.

“50,000 people. 80% flooded. $6 a head.

“News outlets and the mayor have both wondered if the anemic aid was a punishment for Zimmer not endorsing the governor’s reelection bid. Mayors in Jersey City, Elizabeth, and other New Jersey municipalities have been asking the same question since Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich raised the possibility that his refusal to endorse Christie led to the lane closures on GWB and the four-day-long traffic nightmare in that town.

“This Hoboken story and the Fort Lee/GWB story might seem like separate tales. But they’re not. Moreover, these latest revelations put to rest the notion that Hoboken’s Sandy aid or the Fort Lee/GWB story have anything to do with local Democratic officials’ endorsement of the governor during his reelection campaign. Forget about the endorsements. It never really added up anyway.

“It’s time to retire hashtag headline word ‘Bridgegate.’  The term doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.”

Murphy notes that of the nineteen-block neighborhood that was part of a 2013 study for redevelopment (a technical term that means you qualify for tax abatement, tax credits, grants, and other goodies), only the three blocks owned by the Rockefeller Group (David Samson’s client) were deemed eligible.