Christopher J. Christie was nominated by President of the United States George W. Bush to be the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey on December 7, 2001. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, and sworn into office on January 17, 2002, by the Honorable Joel A. Pisano, U.S.D.J. In June 2007 and 2008, he was named the #5 most influential political personality in the state of New Jersey. Initially following his appointment, some members of the New Jersey Bar professed disappointment at Christie's lack of criminal law experience and his history as a top fund raiser for the campaign to elect George W. Bush President. More recently he has earned praise for his history of convictions for public corruption. As of early 2008, Christie's office has won convictions or guilty pleas from over 125 public officials (both Republican and Democrat) without a single lost case.
Christie graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1984. He graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1987. Mr. Christie was admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey and the Bar of the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in December 1987.
In 1987, Mr. Christie joined the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey. In 1993, Mr. Christie was named a partner in the firm. Mr. Christie specialized in securities law, appellate practice, election law, and government affairs. Mr. Christie is a member of the American Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association and was a member of the Election Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Before being appointed as U.S. Attorney, Christie was elected as a Republican to serve on the Morris County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Mr. Christie is serving his second four-year term as the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey. His office includes 137 attorneys, with offices in Newark, Trenton and Camden. Mr. Christie also served as one of seventeen U.S. Attorneys on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' Advisory Committee.
Among Mr. Christie's more notable prosecutions are 2002 conviction on corruption charges of former Republican Essex County, NJ executive and leading candidate for the US Senate, James W. Treffinger and his 2008 conviction of former Democratic Newark, NJ Mayor and New Jersey State Senator Sharpe James on charges of fraud.
While at a speaking engagement, sponsored by the Morris County chapter of the Leadership Alliance of New Jersey
and hosted at the First United Methodist Church of Dover, New Jersey
, Christie was quoted with the following [emphasis added]:
- "Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime";
- "The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person by just being here committed a crime.... We're not going to be arresting people who are here undocumented";
- "''Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. Attorney's Office should be doing something about,";
- (Referring to is it illegal for an undocumented immigrant to enter the country), he stated "It is not."; and
- Other comments reported to refer that he believes there is a problem with immigration, that this issue was an administrative issue, and the job of immigration services; not his.
These comments have sparked local and national media attention, on the heels of heated and currently controversial topic of immigration.
Late in 2007 it was reported that Christie awarded an 18 month contract worth up to $52 million to former US Attorney General John Ashcroft's company, The Ashcroft Group. The contract was for a deferred-prosecution agreement to monitor the terms of a criminal settlement with Zimmer Holdings. Some people have questioned if this type of arrangement represents a conflict of interest.
In May 2007, newspapers reported that Christopher Christie's name appeared on an early list of US Attorneys being considered for termination in the Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. Christie professes ignorance of why he was added to the list in the first place.
In the weeks prior to the 2006 United States general elections, Christie issued a subpoena to examine the records of The North Hudson Community Action Corporation, a community agency that paid rent to Democratic NJ Senator Robert Menendez while receiving federal grants. It has been suggested that the timing of this subpoena was motivated to affect the upcoming election. Menendez won the election regardless. As of early 2008 this investigation has produced no prosecutions.
- Lou Dobbs and Bill Tucker from CNN reported that:
- "Mere presence, just standing in the country illegally is not in itself a crime, that's correct. But that's you know kind of a silly statement. Illegal aliens are not just standing here being present and doing nothing else. There are a multitude of crimes associated with the life of an illegal alien in the United States. That's just the way our laws are written." (Interview with Kris Kobach, Immigration Attorney);
- That in actuality there are over 50 laws are broken in such a case; and
- Allegations "...it's perhaps worth noting that Christie doesn't have a strong record on prosecuting immigration violations. From 2002 through 2007, we could only find 13 cases of immigration cases that were prosecuted." In comparison to over 500 immigration cases in the Kansas district, while the 150 attorneys in the NJ district wouldn't provide comment.
- Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello demanded Christie's resignation from office.
- Local news papers also speculate on Christie's presence and motive at the Latino-sponsored event and the Republican Party's concern towards Christie's potential bid for the New Jersey governor's seat.