BY CNBNEWS STAFF
The New Republic released a scathing article on February 12 about the rise and fall of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
The author of the article, Alex MacGillis, reveals how Christie made back room deals with the likes of South Jersey political boss George Norcross III and other bosses such as North Jersey boss Joe Divincenzo, who avoided federal investigation in 2002 under Christie’s watch.
MacGillis, the senior editor of The New Republic writes,
Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state—powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it.
MacGillis devotes a good part of the article to the rise of "Boss" Norcross. For those who live on another planet Mr. Norcross controls what goes on in such Democrat strongholds as Bellmawr, Camden City, Gloucester City, Collingswood, Pennsauken, etc.
Here is an excerpt from the Chris Christie's Entire Career Reeks article,
Besides, to accuse Christie of protecting Republicans over Democrats was missing the point. True, his office had knocked out a swath of New Jersey’s biggest Democratic power brokers and weakened their organizations in crucial parts of the state. But that meant the bosses left standing had only grown stronger.
In 2002, an insurance firm in Mt. Laurel received an unexpected e-mail from a man named George Norcross. Congratulations, Norcross told the firm: It had won a big contract for the Delaware River Port Authority, which oversees four bridges in the Philadelphia area. The e-mail was unexpected because the firm hadn’t bid for the job. But there was no need for thanks. The company was simply expected to send Norcross’s insurance company $410,000 over the next few years, as a “finder’s fee.”
This is how things work in the world of George Norcross III. Officially, he is the supremely wealthy chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, one of the largest insurance firms in the nation; the chairman of Cooper University Hospital in Camden; and, as of last year, the majority owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Unofficially, he is the most powerful man in New Jersey never to have held elected office. Close observers of state politics have estimated that more than 50 elected officials in South Jersey owe their positions to Norcross (including his brother, a state senator). Much of the money he raises for candidates comes from people and companies eager to secure government work or development deals, as documented over the years by his local paper, the Courier-Post, among others. Norcross’s own firm holds sway over New Jersey’s large municipal insurance market. (He declined to comment for this article.) “George is probably the smartest politician we have now in the state of New Jersey,” says former Republican State Senator John Bennett. “He knows where the power is and goes to the power. Whether that power is a Republican or Democrat.”
One reason that Norcross is so good at working the machine is that he was born into it. His father, George Norcross Jr.—“Big George”—was a much-loved union chieftain, and he would bring “Young George” along to meetings around the state with governors, state legislators, and CEOs. Young George would go on to drop out of college—Rutgers wasn’t teaching him anything about politics he didn’t already know—and start selling insurance out of a basement office. In 1989, after Big George was snubbed for a spot on the New Jersey Racing Commission, Norcross entered politics, motivated by a specific grudge against the legislator who’d stiffed his father and a more generalized resentment over the slighting of South Jersey. Thanks to Big George’s lessons and his own hyper-confidence, it wasn’t long before he gained control of Camden’s Democratic organization and set his sights on the rest of South Jersey. Today, Norcross is silver-haired and impeccably dressed and runs his operation out of well-appointed boardrooms. He is only foul-mouthed in private.
One Jersey Democrat described to me the first time he experienced the Norcross treatment. Not long after this politician announced his candidacy, he was summoned to a meeting with the man himself. Norcross was all magnanimity. “He said, ‘You don’t need to do anything. I’ll raise all the money. You just go out there and meet people,’ ” the candidate recalled.
There was no need for Norcross to spell out the rest of the arrangement: The fate of those who cross him is well known. When Bennett dared to oppose state financing for the arena of a minor-league hockey team Norcross co-owned, Norcross got in a shoving match with him at the State House. In the following months, a stream of critical stories about Bennett appeared in a paper edited by a Norcross friend, contributing to Bennett’s 2003 reelection loss.
On numerous occasions, Norcross’s operation has come under legal scrutiny—from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), state investigators, and the FBI. The cases are labyrinthine, but they all involve some dubious overlap of his many public and private interests. One case in particular threatened to get real traction. In the early 2000s, several New Jersey attorneys general investigated whether he had pressured a Palmyra councilman to fire a city solicitor, Ted Rosenberg, who wasn’t cooperating with the machine. Wiretaps offered a rare glimpse of a man completely convinced of his power. “[Rosenberg] is history and he is done, and anything I can do to crush his ass, I wanna do cause I think he’s just a, just an evil fuck,” Norcross said. In another conversation, referring to then-top Jersey Democrats, he declared, “I’m not going to tell you this to insult you, but in the end, the McGreeveys, the Corzines, they’re all going to be with me. Not because they like me, but because they have no choice.” While discussing plans to remove a rival, he exclaimed: “Make him a fucking judge, and get rid of him!”