A former top official in Gov. Chris Christie’s administration $350,000 in severance and bonuses after leaving Choose New Jersey, Politico reported Monday.
Michele Brown, the controversial former head of the non-profit tasked with bringing businesses to the Garden State, received $200,000 in severance and $150,000 in bonuses or incentives after leaving the non-profit in April 2018, when Jose Lozano took control of the firm.
According to tax filings obtained by Politico, Brown’s total compensation of nearly $500,000 for the first three and a half months of 2018 accounted for 12% of the firm’s expenses for the year.
As governor, Christie vociferously opposed severance packages and bonuses in state government.
Brown, a former federal prosecutor, had served as Christie’s appointments counsel and as the embattled CEO of the Economic Development Authority before getting the Choose New Jersey job.
She is now the executive director of the Christie Institute for Public Policy, which allows the former governor to continue his pitch for civility in American politics.
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy nominated Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano to replace Brown on the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a $76,000-a-year, part-time post.
While serving as First Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2009, Brown was criticized for supervising Freedom of Information requests from Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign for documents related to Christie’s travel while serving as a federal prosecutor.
Christie was running against Corzine at the time.
Among the expense reports the Corzine campaign was seeking were hotel bills for a 2008 meeting in London.
Hotel rooms for Christie and Brown, who was also on the trip, cost $401-per-night — more than the per diem permitted by the Justice Department.
Brown had faced criticism for attending a Christie campaign event while working for the Justice Department, and resigned after disclosure that she had taken a $46,000 personal loan from Christie while working for him.
Christie had not disclosed interest income from the Brown loan on his federal income tax returns or on personal financial disclosures.
As a result, she wound up resigning her post at the U.S. Attorney’s office after becoming a distraction to the campaign.
The New York Times reported that Brown pushed for more than 40 arrests on political corruption and money laundering cases be made before July 1, 2009, so that Christie, not U.S. Attorney-designate Paul Fishman “would be given credit for the roundup.”
In 2005, Brown was in the car with Christie when he was pulled over for speeding, and driving an unregistered vehicle with no insurance.
Christie identified himself as the U.S. Attorney and Brown flashed her Justice Department badge, according to the Lambertville Police.