Weinberg wants Brown to recuse herself from FOIA retrievals

Governor Corzine’s campaign today continued to insinuate that there is an improper relationship between Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie and members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which he ran until December of last year.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), who is running as the Democrats’ candidate for lieutenant governor, said that First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown – who is currently paying Christie back for a $46,000 mortgage he took out on her house two years ago – should be removed from the task of retrieving the Corzine campaign’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

"The United States Attorney's office is filled with qualified professionals," said Weinberg. "Based on what we already know and on today's report by the Associated Press that Christie is refusing to answer who he's still in contact with at the U.S. attorney's office and how informed he is about day-to-day activities there, we are simply saying we need someone not caught up in this controversy to work on the FOIA requests."

Christie’s relationship with Brown, a personal friend and longtime U.S. Attorney staffer who he promoted to the office’s number two spot shortly before resigning, has been at the center of Corzine’s attacks over Christie failing to report the loan on his income taxes and federal employee disclosure forms. On Tuesday, Christie owned up to the mistake and answered reporters’ questions, but refused to take further questions from an Associated Press reporter yesterday.

Corzine’s top advisor, Tom Shea, yesterday filed legal challenges with the Justice Department to break what they say is a delay in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office in fulfilling the campaign’s FOIA requests.

In response to Weinberg’s statement, U.S. Attorney spokesman J. Gregory Reinert pointed to Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra’s statement yesterday to the Star-Ledger that Brown has a role in fulfilling the requests because some of the records sought are her own, but that she was “not in charge of the process.”

Yesterday, Reinert issued a statement reading "The suggestion that someone from outside our office or our law enforcement partners has any input into or knowledge of ongoing cases or investigations demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about how this office operates and how seriously everyone in this office strives to make certain that justice is served."

"Sit down and shut up!"
—Gov. Chris Christie, to a Hurricane Sandy heckler