Wanna settle? Give $5 million to Chris Christie's law school

McClatchy InteractiveFebruary 11, 2014 


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during his 2014 inauguration at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton, N.J.


So here's a sentence for you.

For corporate improprieties, as part of your penalty you will agree to pay $5 million to Seton Hall University to endow a professorship in the law school that just happens to be Chris Christie's alma mater.

And then, well we can settle this out of court.

The Washington Post describes details of the unusual deal in a story published on Feb. 11th, providing new details of what it calls the New Jersey governor's "brand of politics built largely on transactional relationships."

It's the latest revelation, in the wake of disclosures that Christie's office arranged for a massive, four-day traffic tie-up last fall on the George Washington Bridge leading from Fort Lee, N.J., to the Big Apple -- a flap threatening to torpedo Christie's hopes for a Republican presidential nomination.. 

In the latest disclosure, the Post writes that during his service as U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Christie's office negotiated an out-of-court settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb that included the gift to Seton Hall's law school, which was setting up a new business ethics program. It was named the Bristol-Myers Squibb professorship.

Further, published reports have described how Christie appointed political friends, including former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, as monitors to watch over the compliance of seven companies that agreed to such out-of-court punishments, for hefty fees.

So consider this, in the wake of the uproar over partisanship in the Bush Justice Department -- yep, the scandal that led to the ouster of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, officials at headquarters in Washington grew concerned about appearances.

Then-Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford drew up guidelines to ban requiring payments to third parties unless they had been injured by the alleged crime or the money would help repair the damage done, the Post says.

A spokesman for Christie said the payment to Seton Hall was part of a settlement negotiated by prosecutors in his office and contended that similar settlements have been negotiated by federal prosecutors for years.

Looks like those prosecutors, or lawyers for Squibb, just happened to have a deep affection for the boss' alma mater.

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