Just 47 days before the 2002 primary election, FBI agents raided the offices of Essex County Executive Jim Treffinger, then the front-runner for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator. Four days later, Treffinger dropped out of the race.
Treffinger was no fan of Chris Christie, then in his first year as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. It later came out that Treffinger was caught on a wiretap referring to Christie as a “fat fuck” and said he “wouldn’t know a law book from a cookbook.
The raid came nine days after the filing deadline for the June 4 primary. PoliticsNJ, acting on a tip from a source, was first on the scene to watch federal agents wheel boxes of files out of the Essex County Hall of Records.
“There’s a rule at Justice that 60 days before an election, you do nothing about somebody who is going to be on the ballot,” Christie said today in criticizing Comey for saying polling in the 2016 presidential election influenced his decision to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
A Quinnipiac University poll seven weeks earlier showed the Democratic incumbent, Bob Torricelli, with a 51%-27% lead over Treffinger. Republican county organizations switched their support to Douglas Forrester, a self-funder who spent $10.6 million on his Senate campaign.
“He said he felt he would be vindicated and that, in time, the true facts would come out,” Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore told PoliticsNJ in 2002. “But he also recognized that in regard to the campaign, time was working against him.”
Treffinger was arrested six months later – an early morning event outside his Verona home that was captured, perhaps by coincidence, by a Star-Ledger photographer. He was charged in a 20-count corruption indictment; he served thirteen months in prison after a plea agreement with Christie’s office.FBI raids Treffinger