Zimmer lawyer complained of Ashcroft fees

WASHINGTON – In emails to former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and First Assistant Michele Brown, an attorney for Zimmer Holdings, LLC complained about exorbitant fees charged by the monitor appointed by Christie to oversee his client.

The monitor was a firm led by former Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose lucrative federal monitoring contract has been a liability for Christie. In an email to Christie dated October 17, 2007, attorney Frederick Robinson took exception to the $750,000 flat fee requested by Ashcroft’s firm.

“We believe that this request, in both concept and amount, is unreasonable,” Robinson wrote. “Even if one assumed that these gentlemen, due to their vast experience, could command hourly rates of $1,000… that would translate into an aggregate effort level of 750 hours per month for 18 months. We do not believe that such a level of effort will be required by these three individuals or that a guaranteed payment of any amount is appropriate.”

In November, 2007, The Star-Ledger reported that the contract was worth between $28 and $52 million.

Robinson complained about several other parts of the agreement, including reimbursement of the firm for $150,000 to $250,000 in expenses, and complained that Ashcroft’s firm seemed unwilling to compromise on the matter.

In a response two days later, Christie wrote “I am very disappointed that this matter has not been resolved by your client. I am not convinced that this dispute is at the point where it cannot be resolved between your client and the monitor. Therefore, I will not be resolving these issues on the merits.”

The email exchanges were passed out by the committee chairman about 30 minutes before testimony was scheduled to begin.

Just half an hour before former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is set to testify, a Democratic staffer handed out copies of emails between an attorney from Zimmer Holdigs, LLC, Christie and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Brown.

"The governor still has to come to bat."
—Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, on Atlantic City.