Unsolved mysteries of New Jersey politics

The two major party candidates for governor are not likely to agree on a rather complex issue: does the private investment firm Texas Pacific Group (TPG) have a clear connection to TPG-Axon, a hedge fund run out of the same office?

Gov. Jon Corzine has some of his personal fortune invested with TPG-Axon, which sounds similar to TPG. Corzine maintains that the two companies have separate identities, and that it is unfair to accuse him of having a financial interest in casinos when it's TPG, not TPG-Axon, that invests in the gaming industry. Republican Christopher Christie thinks that two companies run by the same people sharing the same office are essentially the same company.

The 2009 campaign includes other allegations where both sides have very different views of the world. And New Jersey politics has a history of similar unsolved mysteries:

  • During the 2001 Republican gubernatorial primary, Donald DiFrancesco (R-Scotch Plains) told the New York Times that a lawsuit involving a loan from a real estate developer and an issue of unpaid taxes involved his brother, Paul, even though the Acting Governor signed the loan papers and was on the deed.
  • In 1976, Matthew Feldman (D-Teaneck) pleaded guilty to charges that he paid a bribe to a buyer so that his liquor distribution company would get a contract. Feldman argued that while Matty the Businessman did something wrong, Matty the Senator had a record of integrity. His Senate colleagues agreed, and re-elected him as Senate President.
  • As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006, State Sen. Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) disclosed that two Kean family trust funds owned about $32,000 in casino stocks. A spokesman for his Democratic opponent called Kean's casino stock holdings "troubling."
  • Four years ago, Douglas Forrester was forced to address allegations that he was unable to finance his campaign for governor because he owned 51% of a Washington, D.C.-based insurance company that did business in New Jersey. Insurance company principals are not permitted to contribute to state campaigns.
  • During his 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Corzine was criticized for investments and policies of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm he headed in the 1990's. In the Democratic primary, former Gov. Jim Florio accused Corzine of helping to prolong the civil war in the Sudan because the firm had invested in an oil pipeline. Corzine denied it, and his campaign "retaliated by linking Florio's law firm to companies involved with child labor in Colombia and the Philippines."
  • In the general election, then-U.S. Rep. Bob Franks (R-Berkeley Heights) repeatedly challenged Corzine to release his personal income taxes. Corzine said as much as he would like to, his Goldman Sachs partnership agreement prevented him for doing so.

If you know any other unsolved mysteries, write us at politicsnj@aol.com.