GovernorsThe Wire

What Do Rick Scott & Justin Bieber Have In Common?

Rick Scott’s utter refusal to answer questions has become a national storyline and a local joke (if it weren’t so infuriating to the people asking). Even under oath, Scott seemed to take delight in providing non-answer after non-answer to simple, straightforward questions. His aversion to questions was on display throughout his 1995 deposition, and seemed oddly reminiscent of another disdainful deposition…

Check it out: http://youtu.be/6muTaedB7NA

Supporting research after the jump.

HouseRapid Response

Why is Michael Grimm Being Indicted?

Reports surfaced this afternoon that Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm will soon face criminal charges after a long federal investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. Wondering what those charges will be about? Bridge has the background on one of Grimm’s many campaign finance issues that have been subject to federal investigation.

Michael Grimm & The Rabbi Pinto Scandal

Law Enforcement Source Claimed That Grimm Threatened Orthodox Rabbi And Congregation. According to the New York Daily News, “Grimm had mentioned that he was a former FBI agent and let the rabbi know, through his interpreter and staff, that he could help the congregation, or make life tougher for them, and that he was a good person to have as a friend, not an enemy,’ a law enforcement source told Roll Call.” [New York Daily News, 03/03/12]

New York Times: Grimm Told Supporter That “There Were Ways Of Working Around The Campaign Rules.” According to the New York Times, “A second follower recalled that Mr. Grimm came to his office in Manhattan to solicit a legal contribution. As he was handing over the check, the second follower said, Mr. Grimm confided in him that there were ways of working around the campaign rules. ‘Grimm wanted you to supply the money, and if someone wants to give and cannot give, you have to find a friend to give it through,’ the second follower recalled. ‘Let’s say someone is not legal to give because he’s not American. Grimm wants this guy, Joe A, to give the money to Joe B so Joe B can make the contribution to the campaign.’” [New York Times, 01/28/12]

Rabbi’s Followers Alleged That Grimm Told Congregation Members He Could Take Illegal Donations. According the New York Times, “Three of the rabbi’s followers said in separate interviews that Mr. Grimm or Mr. Biton told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners without green cards. Congressional campaigns are not allowed to accept cash donations of more than $100.” [New York Times, 01/28/12]

More research after the jump.

GovernorsPresidentialRapid Response

A Million Bucks For This?

The report to exonerate Chris Christie in Bridgegate, for which he spent $1 million of New Jersey taxpayer dollars, dominated local news coverage in New Jersey yesterday. The general sentiment – we spent a million bucks for this? – comes as no surprise given Christie’s taxpayer-funded attorneys did not even interview key players in the scandal, took the governor’s claims at face value, and failed to release all of the evidence they reviewed for their report.

See for yourself here in American Bridge’s new video: http://youtu.be/n9ybvAzq8ck

GovernorsPresidentialRapid Response

Leaps of faith, unanswered questions

The press conference today and accompanying report supposedly exonerating Chris Christie of any wrongdoing in the Bridgegate scandal make quite a few leaps of faith when it comes to accepting Christie’s self defense at face value, and leaves even more questions unanswered. Given that no original documents were released along with the report, and despite the $1 million price tag for New Jersey taxpayers of this investigation, we’re left with few answers and only more questions about Chris Christie’s involvement in this scandal. Here are our top five:

1) Attorney Randy Mastro asserted that Christie had no reason to remember discussions of bridge lane closings and resulting traffic with David Wildstein on September 11, 2013, but he also started that “people lie, documents don’t.” Why is Chris Christie any less likely to lie than David Wildstein?

2) Port Authority Chairman David Samson did not cooperate with this internal Bridgegate investigation. Will Chris Christie hold him accountable for refusing to follow Christie’s own directive that members of his administration would cooperate?

3) Why were questions about the Christie/Samson meeting in August 2013 ignored by Attorney Randy Mastro? When asked, Mastro responded, “If you give me your name and number, I’ll get back to you.”

4) Christie attorney Randy Mastro claimed he examined Christie’s phone logs and text messages, but he never discussed whether any messages from August and September 2013 were recovered. Does this mean there is evidence that Christie selectively deleted portions of his text message history?

5) When will the Christie administration publicly release all of the documentation they handed over to their attorneys for this sham investigation? Will the evidence provided for this investigation be turned over to the legislative committee investigating Bridegate?

Governors

What You Need to Know Before Chris Christie “Clears” Himself

To: Interested Parties
From: Brad Woodhouse, President of American Bridge
Subject: What You Need to Know Before Chris Christie “Clears” Himself
Date: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Governor Chris Christie’s taxpayer-funded attorneys today will release a report that supposedly “clears” Christie of any wrongdoing in the scandal known as Bridgegate. This report, which was conducted by a firm with close ties to Christie, involved analysis of documents the Christie administration failed to provide to the state legislative committee investigating the scandal. In other words, Christie’s defense team gave themselves a first look at everything – and now, they are continuing to keep those documents shielded from public view.

The firm that conducted the investigation has close ties to Christie. One of their attorneys even received a lucrative contract from Christie’s office as U.S. Attorney as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Christie’s use of deferred prosecution agreements has come under fire in the past as a tool he used to reward allies.

What’s more, this self-investigation failed to interview key players whom we know to be involved the scandal – Bridget Anne Kelly, Bill Stepien, and David Wildstein. Without those interviews, any exoneration is suspect.

But the most egregious piece of Christie’s bogus self-exoneration is that it has come at a cost of $1 million of taxpayer money. The Star Ledger has called on Christie to return the taxpayer funds that were used for this farce, and I think most New Jerseyans would agree that their hard earned money could be put to much better use than “clearing” Christie in a scandal created by his own administration.

Read below for the background on what you need to know before Chris Christie “clears” himself of Bridgegate.

GovernorsThe Wire

The Big Three Questions for Scott Walker

Scott Walker on Monday called it a “slippery slope” to answer specifics about the more than 27,000 pages of emails from the “John Doe” scandal released last week because as he claims, “once you start on one thing, then there’s hundreds of questions on each of those.” Then on Tuesday, when he finally took questions from Wisconsin reporters, Walker continued to dodge the key question surrounding this scandal: did he know about the secret email network his staff used to conduct campaign business on government time?

The evidence from the 27,000 pages of emails released last week makes a compelling case that Walker must have known. Given the volume of emails he received and responded to on it, and his directive to staff to stop using the laptops the morning before a search warrant was executed, it’s nearly impossible for Walker’s previous claims of ignorance to hold water.

While Walker continues to deliver evasive responses to questions about his involvement in the John Doe scandal, three big questions remain unanswered:

1. Did Scott Walker know his government staff was breaking Wisconsin law by using a secret email network to conduct campaign business on government time?

2. How can Walker claim he didn’t know about the secret email network when he exchanged numerous emails with then deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch’s “secret” email account during work hours?

3. Did Walker deliberately use his campaign email account to bypass public records laws, or were his campaign emails discussing county work made available to Milwaukee County’s public records officer?

-Brad Woodhouse
President, American Bridge 21st Century

GovernorsPresidentialPress Release

VIDEO/MEMO: Christie’s State of Controversy

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.

GovernorsRapid Response

VIDEO: “Great Job” — The loooong list of scandals/resignations under Rick Scott

Adam Hollingsworth, Steve McNamara, Tony Bennett, David Wilkins, Hunting Deutsch, Jennifer Carroll… the list of scandals and/or resignations from Rick Scott’s administration is disturbingly long. Perhaps the only things more alarming than Scott’s obviously flawed judgment when filling his administration are his repeated assertions that the aforementioned staffers were doing a “great job” while being consumed by controversy.

If that’s what Rick Scott believes, then by his own standard he’s doing a great job.

Here’s American Bridge’s newest video:

Governors

VIDEO: Whose side is Cuccinelli on?

What if out-of-state companies siphoned natural gas from your property, but refused to pay you the money you were due.

Now imagine how you’d feel if the Attorney General’s office, who you thought would be on your side, was secretly helping those companies fight your claims in court. Searching for answers, you open the newspaper to find out that one of the companies in question had donated more than $100,000 to the campaign of that same Attorney General — who still claimed there was “nothing wrong” with with secretly aiding those out-of-state firms. And on top of all that, the AG fought to keep the whole episode a secret and refused to let a state investigator take a look at his personal involvement.

Sadly, that’s the position many Virginians find themselves in today thanks to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Here’s American Bridge’s new video: Cuccinelli: Whose Side is He On?

GovernorsRapid Response

VIDEO: Cuccinelli — Lessons Unlearned

Once again, Cuccinelli put his flawed ethical judgment on full display. Not only did Cuccinelli own stock in a company his office was fighting in court, he received more than $18,000 in gifts, flights, meals and vacations from its CEO. After waves of bad publicity forced him to admit a conflict of interest and recuse himself from two separate court cases, Cuccinelli still maintains his actions were “certainly not unethical.”

Cuccinelli says he’s learned lessons from this ordeal, but since he STILL maintains he never did anything wrong, he has a lot left to learn.