WASHINGTON – The hearing on deferred prosecution agreements has begun.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Adminsitrative Law, called Chris Christie one of the “most experienced U.S. Attorneys” on deferred prosecution agreements and said that he looked forward to his insight on them before launching into a list of DPAs that Christie has been criticized for.
First, of course, was the Ashcroft contract, worth up to $52 million. Cohen called that amount “outrageous” and said that “even if you took steroids and hit 70 homeruns, it’s not worth $52 million.”
He also criticized one in which a Bristol Myers Squibb endowed an ethics chair at Seton Hall – Christie’s alma mater – as part of a DPA.
“I’m interested to hear about this, because if a member of Congress required a school to endow a chair, there would be an outrageous response from the public,” he said. “The fact that it’s an ethics chair is ironic.’
In attendance is U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Democrats hope that he’ll lend the proceedings some heft.
More broadly, Cohen laid out a case for the legislation he co-authored with U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Long Branch) and Frank Pallone (D-Paterson), arguing that monitors should be picked from a pool of prequalified candidates,
Other Democratic members of the committee criticized Christie even less gingerly.
U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) said “I sure hope these decisions were made in good faith, but they reek of favoritism, high fees, and it’s not a good situation.”