Friday, July 24, 2009

'It's Not the Best Day Jon Corzine Ever Had'

Thursday was definitely not the best day New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine ever had. Sure, there have been worse, such as the day he failed to wear his seat-belt during a 90 MPH drive where he nearly lost his life. Yet as far as politics go, seeing many of his cronies arrested while in the midst of a gubernatorial race he trails by 15 points, it may have been his worst.
The sweeping corruption case that ensnared politicians across a swath of New Jersey may claim one more Democratic pol by default -- Gov. Jon Corzine, who is already on the ropes in his re-election bid.

Corzine is more than 10 percentage points behind Republican Chris Christie in the most recent polls -- and he won't be helped by the fact that his rival is the former federal prosecutor who launched the original corruption probe, experts and others said.

"I think it demonstrates that Jon Corzine had his opportunity to reform New Jersey and didn't succeed. I think that's the way it'll play out in the minds of voters," former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a major Christie supporter, told The Post.

"A governor who was a reformer would have dealt with [this level of corruption] a long time ago."

At a minimum, it gives Christie -- who is getting battered by multimillionaire Corzine's negative ads -- something to combat the attacks with.

Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked with New Jersey politicians, said dryly, "It's not the best day Jon Corzine ever had."

One New Jersey Democrat, who asked not to be identified, described the scandal as "surmountable, but it won't be easy."

The Democrat added that there were many problems for Corzine in the arrests, including some logistical ones -- such as some of the arrests taking place in Hudson County, one of the state's most Democratic, meaning that pieces of the party's get-out-the-vote machinery are hobbled.
More scandal details here, here and here.

Meanwhile, it appears New Jersey may have regained its title as the most corrupt state in the union. That sigh of relief you hear comes from corrupt officials in New York and Illinois.
New Jersey regained the title of America's most corrupt state yesterday, thanks to a massive takedown of public officials on the take.

New York prosecutors must be falling down on the job.

If they redouble their efforts, the Empire State would surely be back on top in a blink -- given the extent of the corruption driving Albany's political culture.

For now, though, give Jersey credit: The arrests yesterday were massive -- the outgrowth of a 10-year federal probe that's already chalked up 48 convictions.

Those swept up included mayors, state legislators, county and local officials -- all netted as part of an international money-laundering and payoff scheme involving tens of millions of dollars and even trafficking in human organs.

Among the political losers was Gov. Jon Corzine's commissioner of community affairs, Joseph Doria, who was not charged yesterday but whose office was raided by the IRS and FBI; he resigned hours later.

And that's likely not the last fallout Corzine will be feeling.

Much of the investigative work in this investigation was conducted on the watch of his GOP opponent, former US Attorney Chris Christie -- who surely won't hesitate to remind voters that he successfully prosecuted 130 corrupt officials without losing a single case.
Update: More from Lawhawk.

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