Monday, November 1, 2010

Team Christie Long On Public Corruption Experience

Mark Lagerkvist of New Jersey Watchdog thinks he has uncovered a scandal pertaining to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

In September, 2008, when she was Monmouth County Sheriff, Guadagno hired Michael W. Donovan, Jr. to replace John Cerrato as Sheriff's Chief, a job which paid $87,500 a year. However, Donovan was already receiving more than $85,000 in retirement benefits from the State, and he would be required to give up that pension to become Chief.

So, Guadagno officially hired Donovan as Chief Warrant Officer. While the Sheriff's Chief oversees the day-to-day operations of the 145 officers and civilians in the Law Enforcement Division, the Chief Warrant Officer is a civilian position responsible for community relations. Donovan would be able to serve in a civilian capacity without giving up his State pension.

In fact, the Chief Warrant Officer position is so non-essential that, two weeks before hiring Donovan, Guadagno said she was eliminating the position. And this is the scandal New Jersey Watchdog is breaking.

What Lagerkvist failed to take into account is that, prior to becoming Monmouth County Sherriff, Kim Guadagno was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey. In fact, she was responsible for corruption prosecutions. So it's safe to say that Guadagno knows how to tapdance her way through legally getting the State to pay a pension to someone working for the State full-time.

Lagerkvist has, however, hit on a pattern. Not an illegal pattern, mind you, not a RICO violation, but something significant. He found Guadagno using her knowledge of political corruption law and her power as Sheriff for her own benefit. In other words, Lagerkvist found out why Guadagno is perfectly qualified to serve in the Christie administration.

For example, in addition to Guadagno, Attorney General Paula Dow was a former A.U.A. before becoming Essex County Prosecutor. In fact, from 2002-2003, Paula Dow served as counsel to District Attorney Chris Christie.

In a recent interview on New Jersey Capital Report, Dow stated that her top priorities as Attorney General will be violent crime and public corruption Says Dow, "Public corruption has got to play a key role."

Dow acknowledged that the Christie administration would be focusing on public corruption more than previous administrations. Previous administrations left public corruption investigations to the U.S. Attorney, because of the potential conflict of interest inherent when one political appointee uses the power of the State to investigate other politicians.

But, reasons Dow, since the old U.S. Attorney is now the Governor "[W]e have a big role to play" in political corruption investigations.

Dow claims the Governor played a role in the 2008 indictment of Joe Vas. Vas was a Democratic boss in Perth Amboy and Middlesex County running for re-election as Mayor of Perth Amboy. His 2008 defeat was shocking, and ultimately he was convicted.

Dow also claims that the Attorney General's office is investigating election fraud in Atlantic City (a Democratic stronghold) and Essex County (another Democratic stronghold).

So, what Lagerkvist has stumbled onto is the Governor's intention to use the investigative power of this office willing to use their political power and their expertise in political corruption to attack Democrats.

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