WILL A CASE COME BACK TO HAUNT CHRISTIE?

I keep receiving e-mails providing me with leads for columns. Because of past commentary, some folks have asked if I

I keep receiving e-mails providing me with leads for columns. Because of past commentary, some folks have asked if I had a personal choice for Governor. To be perfectly clear and for the record, I don’t. So far, I have examined the record of Chris Christie in greater detail than the other gubernatorial candidates because (1) he is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and (2) he has the unabashed support of the GOP establishment. Finally, because of this anointing by party insiders, I believe additional vetting needs to be done for balance and because, if I know it, so will any opponent he may face.

I was all set to follow the request of a GOP county chairman, who asked that I write about an Assembly prospect in his county, but it will have to wait until the next column. That is on account of some very interesting information that I received which came from a correspondent that provided me with several newspaper stories and headlines on a very interesting subject.

It started when a local elected official and some of the legislators who represent a certain county sent around letters stating that Chris Christie was pro-life. What struck my source as strange was that none of the letters were from people who are known to be pro-life.

As a columnist, it is not my place to have an opinion about where Chris Christie stands on the abortion issue. He will have to wrestle with that in campaign mode. He was pro-choice throughout his career in elected office. Last December, he refused to tell journalists where he stood on the issue. Now, on TV, he has clearly stated that he is pro-life. I will take him at his word. But my sources mentioned a case Christie handled as U.S. Attorney that concluded a couple years ago that does raise some troubling questions. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

In July 2005, federal officials found 30 young Hispanic woman – some as young as 14 – in conditions described as “trapped in a slavery ring, raped and forced to undergo abortions by their captors.”

U.S. Attorney Chris Christie loudly condemned the operators of this human trafficking ring. At a news conference, he told reporters: “There can be no greater disregard for life than the way these women were treated and what they were forced to do to their own bodies. In essence, these women were kept as slaves.” Christie said that “some of the women were raped by ring members” and later “forced to have abortions so they could keep working.”

Chris Christie, himself, identified the ring’s leader, telling reporters “These women were kept as slaves, forced to work in her establishments.” The “ring leader” owned the three bars and two apartment buildings at which the girls worked and were kept, “five or six to a room.” One of the trafficked women gave birth to a baby in one of those rooms. The media reported that “her newborn died hours later after her captors allegedly tried to stuff the baby down the toilet.”

The “ring leader” was charged by Christie’s office with 31-counts, including human trafficking and immigration charges. She faced up to 20 years in prison on one count alone and if convicted on all counts up to 250 years, according to newspaper reports. There was every indication that this woman was going to be put away for a long time. Five months after her arrest, Christie told reporters: “Human trafficking, to me, is one of the most horrible things that can happen, one of the most anti-American things that can happen.” Bravo!!!

So how did this story end? Chris Christie was building a record of political convictions, and the “ring leader” had given cash gifts to a local mayor in return for having her paperwork expedited and other favorable treatment at town hall.

A plea deal was negotiated with Christie’s office. The “ring leader” testified against the mayor. Most of the charges against her were dropped and she received no jail time for her crimes. She was ordered to pay the more than $500,000 she owed in back taxes on profits from her operation. The mayor, who had received a few thousand dollars in gifts, was sentenced to more than 4 years in prison.

As I said earlier, I believe additional vetting needs to be done, mostly because, if I know this, so does the Governor. Why things on this case worked out the way they did is anyone’s guess. It raises and begs questions that only Chris Christie can answer. He should, and the sooner he is prepared to answer them the better.

WILL A CASE COME BACK TO HAUNT CHRISTIE?