WASHINGTON – When Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie exited the congressional committee room at 1:30 this afternoon, most of the press and spectators left with him.
The subsequent lower-profile testimonies U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) and Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), whose pending legislation regulating the way deferred prosecution agreements are assigned was the ostensible reason for today’s hearing, did not attract the same attention.
After a panel of experts and a Justice Department official dismissed the need for their legislation in earlier testimony, the two argued for it by exhibiting two sets of invoices.
One, a couple inches thick, was from Deborah Yang, a former U.S. Attorney from California who was hired by former U.S. Attorney Christie to monitor one of the medical implant companies accused of giving kickbacks to doctors. It exhaustively detailed even the most minute expenditures made in the process of monitoring
The other, less than a centimeter thick, was for Ashcroft Group Consulting – a firm led by former Attorney General John Ashcroft that was also hired by Christie to monitor another medical implant company, Zimmer Holdings, LLC. The Ashcroft invoices contained only a bank account number to wire payment to, dates of services rendered and an amount owed – anywhere from $750,000 to $2.2 million in each one.
“This is a ransom note, not a billing statement,” said Pascrell.
Yang, the men argued, voluntarily disclosed what should have been required by law.
“Without a legislative fix, basically U.S. Attorneys will continue to write their own rules, and that leads to a broad spectrum of practices – often bad practices,” said Pallone.