The gathering at the home of Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie two Sundays ago appears to have been more political than social – something that might force the Justice Department to suggest that First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown skip similar events in the future. Brown wasn't just any prosecutor – she is a seventeen-year veteran who served as Christie's counsel when he was U.S. Attorney and recently received a promotion to the number two slot, just behind Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, Jr.
Multiple sources in attendance confirmed that in addition to food and beverages, there was a clear political program for the group of Republican County Chairmen and GOP legislators.
Among the speakers were: Christie fundraiser John Hansen, who talked about fundraising strategies and the challenges of Gov. Jon Corzine's Executive Orders limiting campaign contributions from state vendors in funding a gubernatorial campaign; Christie consultant Michael DuHaime gave a presentation on the campaign strategy; and Bill Palatucci, a veteran GOP strategist and Christie's top advisor, discussed the current New Jersey political landscape and the work the campaign has done so far.
Christie also made some remarks, and introduced Brown to the rest of the group.
Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) asked the Justice Department to look into Brown's attendance at the Christie event to determine if she had permission to attend and if it violated any laws or guidelines.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, says federal prosecutors are permitted to attend political events.
"We are not required to act like cloistered drones when it comes to the political process and, with some obvious restrictions, we are allowed to associate with and support campaigns and make political contributions if we so choose — just like all Americans," Drewniak told PolitickerNJ.com yesterday. "I would refer you and anyone else who is genuinely interested to read the rules governing our conduct in this regard."