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Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano and Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Murphy to name Juliano to Horizon board, replacing Brown

Christie has been asking Democrats to keep Brown on

By David Wildstein, June 11 2020 1:10 pm

Update: Gov. Phil Murphy filed his nomination of Paul Juliano to the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield board on Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to nominate Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano to the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield today, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Juliano would replace Michele Brown, a former top aide to Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie has been aggressively lobbying top Democrats to retain Brown, who earns $75,000 a year in the part-time post.

The job is also among the few that come with health benefits.  Christie had led the fight to end benefits for part-time political appointees.

Another appointee, former carpenter’s union executive John Ballantyne, will remain in his board seat for now.

A former federal prosecutor, Brown now runs Christie’s public policy institute on civility in politics.

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 when he discovered that Brown had not been a member of the New Jersey Bar long enough to qualify.

As Christie’s appointments counsel, Brown had been responsible for vetting judicial appointments.

As a consolation prize, Christie gave Brown a seat on the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield board.

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