How Corrupt Is Chris Christie? (Hint: Very):
The Rude Pundit was trying to describe to a pal one way to think about the reactions now to Chris Christie's brand of politics. "You remember how, when we were kids, bullying wasn't an issue for cops and courts, but something we had to work out on the playground? If you could kick a bully's ass, you were fine. But if you couldn't, you were weak somehow. It didn't matter that kids were getting psychologically abused, called 'faggot,' beaten up, or degraded. It was just bullying. It was just something we all had to deal with. But now, we know that bullying is violence. And victims of bullies realized they were routinely assaulted with most everyone thinking there was nothing wrong with it. Once we understood it was wrong, it was just fucking wrong." The Rude Pundit probably wasn't quite that articulate, but the friend got the point.
See, there's so much of what people are accusing New Jersey Governor Christie of doing that you could dismiss it was just politics. Except he fucked the goat on the George Washington Bridge lane blockage. You wanna pressure mayors into doing favors for your political cronies? Well, who doesn't do that? You wanna give your brother the inside track that leads to a hugely profitable real estate deal? Hey, jobs were created, right? It's not as if the New Jersey news media wasn't looking at this stuff before. No one gave a shit, even though they should have, until David Wildstein, a man who looks like he enjoys strangle porn, got a boner for dicking over Fort Lee. Then, of course, we look back and say, "Well, hell, all of that other stuff is messed-up, too." Yeah, once you fuck a goat, dear readers, you can bet that your friends will question everything you've ever done, as well they should, as well they should.
And thus the floodgates are open (pretty close to quite literally when it comes to Hoboken). In the last day or so, we've learned that Christie made sure that a town barely affected by Superstorm Sandy got $6 million of recovery money to help build a senior center and housing project. The Democratic mayor of Belleville then endorsed Christie's reelection. Christie himself pushed for the diversion of funds to a pre-Sandy project that had nothing to do with housing Sandy victims. The Newark Star-Ledger has accused Christie of using the Sandy cash as a "slush fund."
Then there's WNYC's Matt Katz, who has torn into this story like a wild dog on a bison corpse. He reported today about the amount of stonewalling and secrecy the Christie administration has used to prevent reporters, organizations, and citizens from finding out things like how much various trips Christie has taken have cost the state. In clear violation of open records laws and putting a lie to Christie's own pledge of transparency, the governor's office has either refused to release information or released severely redacted documents, like the invoices for a contractor were secret cables from undercover spies.
If you want to know exactly where this is going, here's a hint from the New York Times article yesterday about Christie's political operation: "[W]hen [Christie] wanted to discuss something with lawmakers, he texted them himself. (He told one top legislator that he had learned from his experience as United States attorney not to email; texts were harder to trace.)"
You got that, right? Christie wants to prevent his discussions from becoming part of the public record. And his previous job didn't teach him to avoid corruption, just how to hide it better.
But it goes further: "Since his days as the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, many people said, [Christie] preferred to use his cellphone or to meet, rather than to communicate by email or conference call." The only reason you do things without leaving a trail is that you are afraid of people finding you at the end of it.
We're past the drip, drip, drip part of things now for Chris Christie. The spigot's open, and, chances are, we'll be filling our cups for a good, long time.