Brown’s attendance at Christie party was social, not political

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown was among the guests at a small social gathering held last Sunday at the Mendham home of Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie, but her attendance at the event – which was not political event though many of the attendees were Republican County Chairmen, legislators and campaign staffers – did not violate any federal law or regulation.

Brown was the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and Christie’s counsel before Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, Jr. elevated her to his old job as the number two in command of the federal prosecutor’s office. A career prosecutor, she is a close personal friend of Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, and has been the U.S. Attorney’s office for seventeen years.

With some obvious restrictions, Justice Department employees are allowed to associate with and support political campaigns, according to a website maintained by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Sources say that while some of the talk at Christie’s home turned to politics and his bid to unseat Governor Jon Corzine, Brown did not participate in those conversations. There are no guidelines against maintaining personal friendships while working at the Department of Justice.

From the website:

Permitted/Prohibited Activities for Employees Who May Participate in Partisan Political Activity

These federal and D.C. employees may

  • be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections
  • register and vote as they choose
  • assist in voter registration drives
  • express opinions about candidates and issues
  • contribute money to political organizations
  • attend political fundraising functions
  • attend and be active at political rallies and meetings
  • join and be an active member of a political party or club
  • sign nominating petitions
  • campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances
  • campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections
  • make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections
  • distribute campaign literature in partisan elections
  • hold office in political clubs or parties

These federal and D.C. employees may not

  • use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
  • solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency
  • solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations)
  • be candidates for public office in partisan elections
  • engage in political activity while:
    • on duty
    • in a government office
    • wearing an official uniform
    • using a government vehicle
  • wear partisan political buttons on duty

Agencies/Employees Prohibited From Engaging in Partisan Political Activity

Employees of the following agencies (or agency components), or in the following categories, are subject to more extensive restrictions on their political activities than employees in other Departments and agencies:

Administrative Law Judges (positions described at 5 U.S.C. ?5372)
Central Imagery Office
Central Intelligence Agency
Contract Appeals Boards (positions described at 5 U.S.C. ?5372a)
Criminal Division (Department of Justice)
Defense Intelligence Agency
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Elections Commission
Merit Systems Protection Board
National Security Agency
National Security Council
Office of Criminal Investigation (Internal Revenue Service)
Office of Investigative Programs (Customs Service)
Office of Law Enforcement (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)
Office of Special Counsel
Secret Service
Senior Executive Service (career positions described at 5 U.S.C. ? 3132(a)(4))

Permitted/Prohibited Activities for Employees Who May Not Participate in Partisan Political Activity

These federal employees may

  • register and vote as they choose
  • assist in voter registration drives
  • express opinions about candidates and issues
  • participate in campaigns where none of the candidates represent a political party
  • contribute money to political organizations or attend political fund raising functions
  • attend political rallies and meetings
  • join political clubs or parties
  • sign nominating petitions
  • campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances

These federal employees may not

  • be candidates for public office in partisan elections
  • campaign for or against a candidate or slate of candidates in partisan elections
  • make campaign speeches
  • collect contributions or sell tickets to political fund raising functions
  • distribute campaign material in partisan elections
  • organize or manage political rallies or meetings
  • hold office in political clubs or parties
  • circulate nominating petitions
  • work to register voters for one party only
  • wear political buttons at work
Brown’s attendance at Christie party was social, not political