Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie’s top campaign officials went after the New York Times today in response to a story that a former Justice Department official may have used her position to help Christie’s campaign for governor.
“I think a story by unnamed sources two weeks out from the campaign making allegations which are untrue – I don’t think there’s a lot of credence to that story – and it was not something I was expecting two weeks out form the New York Times,” said Christie strategist Mike DuHaime.
DuHaime and state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), who chairs Christie’s campaign, put together a press conference call this morning to talk about $87,000 in donations from Gov. Jon Corzine and his charitable foundation last year to the church of Rev. Reginald Jackson, who was courted by Christie but endorsed Corzine this month.
Kyrillos criticized Corzine for delaying filing his philanthropic foundation’s tax returns, arguing that “There must be a reason why the information is not forthcoming. We have 14 days left before an election.”
“Normally when people are generous, when they do philanthropy, they’re proud of the fact… You would think he would want new Jerseyans to know what he has done, but there must be a reason he won’t share it with his constituents,” said Kyrillos.
But most reporters’ questions focused on the Times story, which cited three unnamed federal law enforcement officials who said that former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown may have tried to help Christie’s campaign by suggesting moving up the date of the massive corruption sting in July and by holding up Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by the Corzine campaign.
“The stories that have been written have not dealt with the issues of the campaign,” said DuHaime. “They’ve dealt with issues like Chris’s weight and his mother’s sister’s second husband’s little brother’s family connections.”
DuHaime said that the story “left people with a false impression” by noting that Christie, an avid Mets fan, put in for mileage reimbursement to Philadelphia on the same night that the Mets were playing an away game against the Phillies. DuHaime said that Christie did go to the game, but as part of an annual outing for the Camden-based U.S. Attorney staffers.
Kyrillos, for his part, said that the paper ignored central issues to the governor’s race (although one of their first stories on the race this year centered on Christie courting Corzine’s urban base – and Jackson – on the issue of education).
“I’m just surprised that the New York Times, half of the editors of which live in Montclair or other parts of New Jersey, would cover this race the way they have,” said Kyrillos. “I haven’t seen one single story about the state’s economy, one single story about the state’s unemployment rate, one single story about why the unemployment rate is higher than New York or Connecticut or higher than other places where the paper circulates in a big way, and I’ll leave it at that.”