Click play for audio version of this story
Former Gov. Chris Christie has tapped a longtime member of his inner circle, Michele Brown, to run his new public policy institute, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Brown, a former federal prosecutor who held several positions in the Christie administration, will serve as executive director of the Christie Institute for Public Policy. She will receive a six-figure salary for the part-time post, two sources confirmed to the Globe.
The new Christie Institute will focus on civility in politics and will hold an inaugural lecture on September 26 at Seton Hall University with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Priority seating for the event is $500-per-person, with general seating priced at $100-per-person.
Brown told the Globe that the institute will hold quarterly lectures. When asked about her salary, she abruptly terminated the call.
The Christie Institute is also seeking corporate and individual contributions.
Until she was ousted by Gov. Phil Murphy last year, Brown was the $450,000-a-year CEO of Choose New Jersey, a privately-funded group formed by Christie allies to help attract new businesses to the state.
Brown has close personal ties to Christie from their time at the U.S. Attorney’s office, and her financial ties to the governor became an issue in the 2009 gubernatorial campaign when State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) — at the time the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor — said Brown should recuse herself from reviewing Freedom of Information Act requests dealing with Christie’s travel as a federal prosecutor.
Brown later joined Christie’s staff as Appointments Counsel and became executive director of the now-embattled New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
In May 2017, Christie filed a notice of intent to nominate Brown to a Superior Court judgeship, but Brown inexplicably withdrew her name from consideration a few days later.
As a consolation prize, Christie gave Brown a seat on the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors.
While the first lecture will be held at Seton Hall University Law School, the college has said it has no formal connection to the Christie Institute.
Nikita Biryukov contributed to this story.