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Friday, August 21, 2009

Christie and Spitzer: Candidate 1 vs. Client 9

httNew York Governor Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign for a purely (but appalling) personal and moral shortcoming. That is, of being Client 9. (See Spitzer's resignation here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JYEUhIobuk.)

Chris Christie's multiple failures -- or his conscious, repeated refusals -- to report the loan income from a mortgage to his direct subordinate in the U.S. Attorney's Office on either his federal or state tax forms for either 2007 or 2008, or to report the loan on the appropriate disclosure forms, each could be separate "overt acts" that could be the basis for an "honest services" felony charge. (Now, this "honest services" theory has come under attack, including from Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia who has theorized that a broad reading of the statute would allow for the indictment of a person who called in sick to work and went to a Chicago Cubs game instead. But that will be the subject of a separate post.)

There are numerous New Jersey politicians or connected people -- as well as a certain former Alaska Senator -- who seem to have committed (or been accused of) the same failures to disclose. (Google the names Joseph Ferriero, Dennis Oury and Ted Stevens.) Just pick one and compare the facts.

It is fair to speculate that, if Chris Christie were the mayor of Perth Amboy, Chris Christie the U.S. Attorney would have convened a grand jury and pushed for criminal felony charges. And here, just think, Christie has admitted to his failures to report the loan income or make the requisite tax payments, and to his failures to disclose the loans. Slam dunk case.

If you say "it's minor," ask yourself whether that argument is bought by prosecutors or judges when the issue is a gram of cocaine, or a bribe of $100.

When does Christie get referred to as Candidate 1? When do we see "CC" (meaning "Chris Christie" and not "co-conspirator" although in New Jersey, ya never know) in a federal charging document (the legal parlance is called an "information")?

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who engages in crisis management and other matters. Mr. Dixon cautions readers that this article is not legal advice. Mr. Dixon may be contacted for further comment through edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com, or at 917-696-2442.


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