The decision of an outraged Governor Jon Corzine to withdraw his renomination of Superior Court Judge Fred Kiesler for using a racial slur in the courtroom came eight years after his own fledgling political career nearly ended after making an ethnic joke of his own. Kieser, who has been on the bench for seven years, used a “no tickee, no laundry” line – a comment viewed as offensive to Asian American immigrants. Corzine, as a U.S. Senate candidate in March 2000, made a joke about asking an Italian American businessman if he made ‘cement shoes.” He also made a Jewish lawyer joke.
Corzine made a very public apology and asked for the forgiveness of Italian American and Jewish community leaders. His charitable foundation also made some strategic contributions. Kieser, it seems, doesn’t have a foundation.
The Governor dropped Keiser only after the Senate Judiciary Committee released details of a complaint against the Middlesex County Judge – although the complaint about the ethnic slur was in Keiser’s file at the time the Corzine decided to renominate him. Corzine still renominated Jeanne Fox, the wife of his political advisor, to the Board of Public Utilities, despite accusations of ethical improprieties that are potentially more serious and substantial.
The Governor’s appointments office seems to be struggling lately: the nomination of New Yorker David Szuchman, the senior counsel to the appointments office of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, as state Consumer Affairs Director, is expected to be approved by the Senate today – but as of this morning, Corzine’s staff had only 21 affirmative votes.
Lately, Corzine seems prone to comments that might appear a bit hypocritical. Two weeks ago, he sent out a fundraising appeal on behalf of Hillary Clinton that said the “election shouldn’t be decided by who can run the most TV ads. It should be decided on the strength of each candidate’s vision, experience, and qualifications. But instead, Hillary has been outspent by substantial margins.” Reminder: Corzine spent more than $118 million of his personal fortune to win elections for U.S. Senator and Governor.
Following Eliot Spitzer’s press conference last Monday, Corzine said in a statement that Spitzer’s “actions are a clear violation of his own sense of right and wrong. He will have to regain credibility not only with his family but with the public.” Corzine said this, of course, without referencing the hump on his own back: allegations made by his former wife that he had an extramarital affair with a labor leader to whom he gave substantial monetary gifts.