Laugh or cry? Difficult to know what to do when Chris Christie does the moral equivalent of passing gas in public–it’s just so embarrassing to people who were raised right. Especially so when such indecorous behavior is aimed at nothing less than the state Supreme Court.
This time, the boorish behavior involves the naming of Walter Timpone to the state’s highest court–a court that once was known for legal giants like William Brennan, Robert Wilentz, and Richard Hughes.
Here’s the basic facts–editorial comment is hardly necessary:
Timpone was one of Christie’s legal frat boys in the US Attorney’s office in New Jersey–you know, the political processing machine designed by Christie’s brother Todd to set Christie up for his run for, first, governor, then, laughably, president.
Instead of getting a job in state government, Timpone went into private practice, although he did get an appointment to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, another office Christie could smear with his grubby hands.
About a decade ago, Timpone asked Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Christie’s Madame DuBarry, to help get his–Timpone’s–son a job. Hey, no problem, says Joe D, so Timpone junior gets on the public payroll in Essex County for 45 large.
This is somewhat reminiscent of Joe D asking his pal the governor for a job for his–DiVincenzo’s–son. Christie comes through with a $94,000 job for Joe D Junior at the Christie equivalent of a political liquid waste dump, the state education department under David Hespe. It was payback for Joe D’s stabbing Barbara Buono in the back in the 2013 election. Cheap at twice the price.
Then, Joe D is up for using campaign money for private purposes–and here is where Timpone gets the chance to really thank Joe D for enhancing the Timpone family income. Because Christie won’t appoint members to the ELEC board, it can’t begin an investigation into Joe D’s fiscal canoodling unless Timpone votes for it. He doesn’t. Overcome with an attack of ethical concerns, he recuses himself and Joe D goes free from an investigation.
And now–the final reward: Christie names Timpone as the best Democrat he could possibly find to sit on the state’s highest court.
Consider the lawyers in New Jersey. Consider the judges in New Jersey. Consider the sort of people who have served in the past–and some of those serving now–on the court. Is a member of the Chris Christie-soft-political-porn-reading-club-and-sewing-circle the best New Jersey can do?
If Timpone really felt the ethical heebie-jeebies when he let Joe D go free, he should be positively shaking with them now and owes the legal profession and the court and the people of New Jersey another attack of the ethical vapors–and decline Christie’s sweaty embrace.
And–just an end note: The Star-Ledger’s story on this smelly chapter carries this confusing and unexplained note that I hope someone can clarify. Here it goes:
“Timpone also noted in the e-mail that he’s defended election law at the expense of his own private interests, citing a case in which the ELEC refused to allow former Newark Mayor Sharpe James to use his campaign funds to pay for his criminal representation–an action that would not benefit a criminal defense attorney such as Timpone.”
Does that mean it actually occurred to Timpone, as an ELEC commissioner, that he could serve his personal interests by allowing political funds to be used to pay criminal defense lawyers? Yikes.
But, maybe, he didn’t mean that. One can never be sure reading The Star-Ledger.
The Legislature will probably confirm Timpone to the court. He is nominally a Democrat, after all, although a member of the party’s Opportunist Caucus headed by Joe D and others sharing a king-sized bed with the governor. It’s the way of things in Christieland.