Between the lines Chris’s younger brother

Bruce Springsteen fans attending a series of concerts in the Meadowlands in 2000 noticed one guy in the front seats for every performance.

“He was Todd Christie,” said a fellow Bruce fan who had less significant seats further away from the stage.

Todd Christie was the younger brother of Christopher Christie, the man destined to become New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney.

Todd Christie, in fact, had bid for the front row seats as part of a VH1 music television charity fundraiser – bidding high on all but one of the shows offered for the event.

At the time, Christopher Christie was serving as New Jersey Campaign Counsel for then-presidential candidate George W. Bush.

Todd, very much reflective of the tastes of many modern upperly mobile professionals, has raised money for charities through a variety of venues including golf tournaments and auctions. Todd, along with his brother Christopher and their father, had set up a private family charity that issued more than $1 million to charities statewide during its first year of operation in 1998. Until 2003 – when Christopher’s wife replaced him on the charity’s board of trustees – Todd was the sole source of revenue for the Christie Family Charity and remains the fundamental source of cash.

Todd has since even taken to the stage for charity, teaming up with fellow stock traders in 2004 for a children’s charity event as the Rockbrokers – where he appeared as one of The Blue Brothers and played “Soul Man.” In 2004, he appeared in the same charity venue rocking out on guitar with the tune “Taking Care of Business.”

A fundraising superstar?

While Todd may be a frustrated rock and roll star, he was among the state’s principal fundraisers, a well-off stock trader whose fundraising efforts earned him Bush’s highest honors in the Pioneer Club (donors who have contributed more than $200,000 to the Bush Campaign).

Campaign finance records show that the Christie family, including Todd and Christopher, both their wives, and their father and mother, contributed to the Bush campaign in 2000, as did many of the associates working for the brothers’ respective offices.

Christie, in his tenure as U.S Attorney, has investigated shady New Jersey political deals and complained about “pay-to-play” campaign donors. But records show that prior to taking the position of U.S. attorney, Christie and his family contributed $144,000 to the New Jersey State Republican Committee (NJSRC) as well as made other contributions to Republican candidates such as former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler in the 2001 gubernatorial race.

Christie has prosecuted prominent Democratic figures throughout the state including former County Executive Robert Janiszewski and Real Estate magnate Rene Abreu, and has been very vocal in his criticism of how Democrats have raised money. “Pay to play” is a practice in which contractors who want to be given favored treatment feel compelled to donate to campaigns. The state legislature has been considering campaign reform bills that would place donation caps on potential contractors to eliminate even the appearance of a quid pro quo. One prominent Republican said the anti-pay-to-play stance of Republicans is a strategy to undermine Democratic candidates’ ability to raise campaign funds.

“Democrats have to raise funds by any means possible,” this source said. “Republicans either have the money to run already, or rub shoulders with prominent people from whom they can get the cash.”

Looking at the donations from the Christie family and Christopher Christie’s business associates, they certainly have contributed to Republicans through the years.

Republican fundraisers routinely work what is called “the charity circuit,” attending various auctions and other events where wealthy people are donating to noble causes. By hobnobbing with wealthy political fundraisers, they can also make the pitch for political donations.

This may explain the timing in establishing the Christie Family Foundation in 1998, which allowed Todd and Christopher access to scores of public events and access to hundreds of potential campaign donors.

Was Christopher Christie’s appointment political? Until his latest $2,000 contribution to Bush’s 2004 re-election, Christopher Christie’s last political campaign contribution was made to the Bret Schundler campaign on Aug. 6, 2001.

This was the same day people in Hudson County started to notice the disappearance of then-Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, when federal authorities ended their massive corruption probe that had used Janiszewski as an undercover agent.

Christopher Christie was informed of his pending appointment on Sept.10, 2001, three days after Janiszewski’s resignation as county executive was made public.

After that point, records show no more political donations.

President George W. Bush named Christie U.S. Attorney on Dec. 7, 2001. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on Dec. 20, 2001, and sworn into office on Jan. 17, 2002.

In autumn of 2001, when President Bush announced Christopher Christie’s appointment, critics questioned his lack of experience. Some Democratic critics have speculated on the relationship between the Christie family’s fundraising and the appointment. Former Sen. Robert Torricelli, a Democrat, said former Democratic state Sen. John Lynch was apparently very concerned with the Christie appointment.

“Lynch called me and asked me to block the appointment,” Torricelli said. “I thought it was too soon after 9/11 to be playing politics.”

As a U.S. senator at that time, Torricelli could have halted the appointment or delayed it significantly.

Despite early criticism, Christie struck out on a fierce public campaign of battling corruption, trying to stop bribery and other dirty political dealings in the Garden State. He did so well in bringing investigations to fruition that his name is currently being touted in Garden State Republican circles as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2005.

Recent revelations of the Christie family’s role in funding Republican activities have resulted in a call for an investigation by Democratic state Sen. John Adler, chairman of the senate Judiciary Committee.

Jackie Corley, Reporter correspondent, contributed to this column

email to Al Sullivan


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