Chris Christie’s reelection last November was supposed to propel him into the pole position for the race to the White House. However, the timing of his victory coincided with the release of a damning excerpt from Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Unwittingly transcribing the prologue for 2016, Halperin and Heilemann recounted the incredulity with which Romney’s VP selection committee discovered the preponderance of scandals in Christie’s wake.
“The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record…[Ted] Newton told his colleagues, If Christie had been in the nomination fight against us, we would have destroyed him—he wouldn’t be able to run for governor again. When you look below the surface, Newton said, it’s not pretty.”
Some of the controversies alluded to by those possessing a cursory familiarity with Christie’s record: a defamation lawsuit from his 1994 election, lobbying for an exemption to securities regulation on behalf of an organization associated with Bernie Madoff, a lucrative contract for a U.S. attorney who had declined to prosecute Christie’s brother for fraudulent stock trading, a no-bid contract for John Ashcroft, and excessive spending during his time as a U.S. Attorney. Taken together, Christie’s career seemed to be a compilation of ethical lapses which would be unable to withstand the scrutiny of a national election.
As NBC News recently pointed out, until now Christie has been the beneficiary of positive attention from the New York media. Now the “free ride” is over as Christie is “welcome[d] to the vetting process.”
With that scrutiny finally being applied to Christie, we’re beginning to scratch the surface of just how far Christie and his team were willing to go in pursuit of a November victory that would serve as a launching pad for his presidential ambitions. Just as Christie’s marathon press conference did not answer all of the questions surrounding the George Washington Bridge lane closures, the succeeding days have raised only more questions about the potential improper use of Hurricane Sandy relief funds, canceled meetings with another mayor who declined to endorse the governor, and the use of personal emails by Christie staff in possible violation of Open Records laws.
Despite his high-profile status, Chris Christie’s record is yet to be vetted in the context of a competitive national election. So far, each loose end pulled seems to unravel a thread of corruption, abuse of power, and contempt for his fellow Garden Staters. As Christie delivers his State of the State address today amidst a state of controversy, his inability and unwillingness to address the mounting scandals in his administration constitutes the first game changer of 2016.
Check out the research after the jump.