New Heights for the Big Sleazy

FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2008 file photo, attorney Randy Mastro, right, argues a case in state Supreme Court in New York while New York City Corporation Counsel Stephen Kitzinger, left, listens. Gov. Chris Christie's... FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2008 file photo, attorney Randy Mastro, right, argues a case in state Supreme Court in New York while New York City Corporation Counsel Stephen Kitzinger, left, listens. Gov. Chris Christie's administration hired Mastro's law firm on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 to assist with an internal review in the wake of an apparent political payback scandal in New Jersey. The firm will be looking into a plot that shut down lanes to the George Washington Bridge for four days in September, 2013, causing massive traffic jams. (AP Photo/ Marc A. Hermann, Pool, File) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

New Jersey’s got sleazy politics. We know that. But Governor Christie wants to innovate new levels of sleazy power plays and weirdness. This thread of the story has to do with the law firm which the Governor’s ‘office’ has retained to work on its behalf. The lead attorney is Randy Mastro whose reputation for aggressiveness precedes him. It’s not totally clear who or out of what bucket the firm is being paid, just who its client is or even exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. But in the guise of doing document collection and some sort of ‘internal investigation’ to help the Governor find out just what he did, it’s actually acting as what amounts to a counter-investigation.

Last week we reported that the firm is using the state’s open records law to get the purported victims of Christie’s office to turn over documents to this firm and even trying to find out what they’ve been telling journalists.

So the law firm that at the end of the day is working for Chris Christie is using public transparency laws to find out what Christie’s enemies have told the press about him. Or to put it differently, open records laws intended to let people know what the government knows are being used by the government to find out what the people – or more specifically, more junior elected officials and journalists – know about it. That’s amazing.

Now Christie’s lawyers want Mark Sokolich, the Mayor of Fort Lee, the guy at the center of this whole drama, to turn over his documents and also submit to an interview with Christie’s lawyers. Sokolich has declined.

This isn’t a secret. We’re on this. The big New Jersey papers have been following this. The Star-Ledger first reported the part about Sokolich. But something seems very wrong here. The Governor appears to be using public money to wage it’s own opposition research effort against his purported victims, the people the retaliation was allegedly meted out against. That would be hardball but not that odd if Christie was paying for these lawyers. But it appears the State of New Jersey is. I don’t know why this isn’t generating more of an uproar.

Latest Editors' Blog
  • |
    April 22, 2024 1:31 p.m.

    Like David, I’m still not clear that we have a satisfying explanation of just why the last week on Capitol…

  • |
    April 22, 2024 11:59 a.m.

    Opening statements are complete in the Trump trial, and our Josh Kovensky has done a tremendous job covering it in…

  • |
    April 20, 2024 5:13 p.m.

    Let me return to add a few more thoughts on what happened between Israel and Iran. Iran launched a massive…

  • |
    April 19, 2024 11:43 a.m.

    I hope you get a chance to read Josh Kovensky’s trial report from yesterday. He gets at a really good…

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: