In the post-Bridgegate world, charges of Gov. Chris Christie’s political bullying have gained more credibility. It’s like when one woman accuses a public figure of sexual harassment, inspiring several others to come forward too.
In the wake of the revelations that Christie’s allies toyed with traffic at the George Washington Bridge, apparently to punish a mayor who failed to endorse him, we heard new allegations from Dawn Zimmer — the Hoboken mayor who says his officials threatened to withhold Sandy aid unless she supported his favored real estate project.
And now, we are reminded of the accusations of Ben Barlyn, a former Hunterdon County prosecutor who says he was fired because he refused to drop a case against a Christie ally. For the past year, he’s been striving to prove his story, paying through the nose for a civil lawsuit against the state while telling it to anyone who will listen.
Barlyn says that after he secured an indictment in 2010 against Hunterdon County Sheriff Deborah Trout, a Republican with political ties to Christie, he was fired and the case hastily killed by Christie’s appointed attorney general at the time, Paula Dow. The real story isn’t the mundane crimes that were alleged: hiring without proper background checks, making employees sign loyalty oaths, threatening critics and producing fake police badges for a prominent Christie donor. It’s the possible abuse of power by the administration’s head prosecutor.
Barlyn is now trying to compel the state Attorney General’s Office to release the grand jury transcripts to prove his case had legs.
He’s not the only one who says so: Four grand jurors and other dismissed prosecutors have come forward to agree. A judge even ordered the release of the transcripts — yet still, the state is refusing to comply. It has filed a torrent of briefs in an effort to suppress the grand jury record, and will continue this fight at a hearing Tuesday.