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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: Minimum Wages and Low Income Assistance

Interview

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Date:
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Well, Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey is with us right
now, also Bob Ingle, who is with "The Asbury Park Press." He`s the author
of the book "Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power."

Congressman Pallone, tell us about this story, how you smelled it out, you
thought it was fishy. I mean, I do think it is odd that we got something
like a $25 million ad buy that makes a guy look gorgeous out there, has his
wife in it, narrating it, and that`s not a political ad, when it looks
awfully like a political ad that should be paid for by private funds, not
by hurricane relief money.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, Chris, I think the main thing
here, as "The Asbury Park Press" brought out in their own investigation, is
that this money that could have been used, you know, for Sandy relief.

I still have a lot of homeowners and businesses that haven`t gotten their
money to rebuild or raze their homes. The fact of the matter is, there was
the difference between the low bid, which wasn`t chosen, which wasn`t going
to include Chris Christie and his family, and the bid that was chosen,
which was about $2.2 million more expensive.

And so this is one of the things that I`m asking the inspector general to
look in to, whether there was impropriety in choosing a higher bidder for
more cost just because Chris Christie was going to be in the ad during the
campaign season.

MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of hurricane relief, the name Michele Brown comes
to mind here right now, Bob Ingle. Here is the person, the head of the
development fund that the governor set up. She was knocked out of his
office when he was U.S. attorney for taking a $46,000 loan from her boss,
which is an odd amount of money to get from somebody who is also a public
servant.

And then she came back in for a $250,000 job as head of this development
corporation. She`s the one that cut the contract with this big fancy way
to make the governor look good in TV advertisement, again, $25 million in
this case. So the money keeps going up, from a $46,000 loan to a $250,000
job. How do you put it together, the fact that she got a loan from the
governor, was pushed aside back then, comes back for a quarter-million-
dollar-a-year job, and now approves a $25 million ad buy, which makes the
governor look awful cheek -- awful cheerful and good for a reelection
campaign?

BOB INGLE, "THE ASBURY PARK PRESS": Well, yes.

We have several pages of that in the Chris Christie book, as a matter of
fact. The Christies and the Browns are family friends. There was a
loan...

MATTHEWS: I will bet.

INGLE: ... for 10 years for an amount of money that was to be paid back.
And that`s how he explains that one. She was in the U.S. attorney`s office
for 11 years before Christie got there. And when he came to the governor`s
office, he brought her and a lot of other people, and then, when this job,
which is a pretty good job to have, actually, came up, and he sent her over
to that.

Now, we asked for the tally sheet on who voted and how -- what kind of
points they gave to these two different plans. They sent us over the
tallies and the numbers, but they redacted who voted which way. So that`s
something that we`re still trying to get. We can`t really say who gave how
many points to this plan that won.

MATTHEWS: But the governor, the people working for the governor, here the
woman he had lent them money to, he had given the quarter-million-a-year
job to, she picked out the ad that was more expensive, but highlighted his
success in the cleanup, rather than the cheaper ad that didn`t, right?

INGLE: Right.

Well, what happened is, in the written proposal, there was no mention of
Christie. It was celebrities, well-known -- well-known New Jersey people.
And -- but they had a verbal session when they discussed this.
Now, we asked for the minutes from that verbal section to see what was
discussed, and they haven`t turned that over to us. But, apparently, it
was in that meeting that they decided they really wanted the big guy,
Christie, in the ads. It wasn`t in the written proposal.

MATTHEWS: Congressman -- Congressman Pallone, let me -- you`re a Jersey
political figure. And everybody is now saying, oh, this is just Jersey
politics, you know, letting contracts that make you look good -- maybe
they`re more expensive, but they make you look good. So, it`s an old pal
of yours you put in there, you lent money to in the past, you have been
loyal to, very close friends with.

Just like the President of the United States George W. Bush, who had his
pal -- remember, heck a job? "You`re doing a heck of a job, Brownie,"
somebody from the Arabian horse commission that some -- racing commission -
- somehow became head of the disaster relief.

Here, you have another friendly appointment and you have friendly behavior
on her part in helping the governor. Is this the way Jersey runs? Is this
something we just have to get used to?
PALLONE: No.

MATTHEWS: And that the governor is somehow free of any blame here? ,

PALLONE: No, Chris, we should never get used to this.

The fact of the matter that this is money that came from the federal
government that could have been used for Sandy relief. And as far as I`m
concerned, you know, representing people at the Jersey Shore who are still
looking for their checks and haven`t received them, I`m not going to go
along with any idea that says that`s OK because that`s the way we do it in
New Jersey.

In New Jersey, we`re honest. We do things properly. And if the governor,
you know, made a decision here through his aides that he was going to take
the more expensive ad because of the fact that he was included in it and it
was going to run during a campaign season, that`s the wrong thing to do.
And I`m certainly not going to condone it. And I`m glad that the inspector
general is doing this investigation. Let`s get to the bottom of it.

MATTHEWS: And a lot of people are still hurting in New Jersey and up in
New York, in Breezy Point, of course, and Staten Island and Rockaway, and
so many places. You`re dead right. They deserve to get the right kind of
publicity, how they`re hurting, not how great the governor of New Jersey
is.

Thank you, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, for bringing this story, and Bob
Ingle for reporting it.

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