Meet Christie’s New Ombudsman

Matt Katz, WNYC | April 18, 2014 | Katz on Christie

As part of the internal review into the scandals whirling around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, lawyers recommended the governor hire an ombudsman. On Friday, Christie announced that he appointed Patrick Hobbs for the position.

Age: 54

Hometown: Basking Ridge

Party: Democrat

Experience: Seton Hall Law School Dean and chair of the state Commission on Investigation, which in recent years has been more focused on criminal issues than public corruption.  

Salary: $75,000 for the part-time job. He is not resigning from his dean’s position. 

Relationship to Christie: They have known each other professionally for the last 15 years through Christie’s involvement as an alumnus of Seton Hall Law. Hobbs said they have never socialized.

Connection to Christie World: Bill Baroni, who testified (falsely, it is now believed) that the bridge lanes were closed for a traffic study, has taught at Seton Hall Law. Hobbs said Baroni informed the school he would not teach this semester, given the scandal, but Hobbs didn’t rule out the possibility that he could teach there in the future.

Hobbs’ First Order of Business: Closing the political arm of Christie’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which Bridgegate witnesses Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly ran. Documents indicate that employees of this office were involved in both wooing mayors so they’d endorse Christie and punishing mayors who didn’t support him, on the taxpayer’s dime.

How He’ll Handle Whistle-blowers: “I’ll be a resource where people can go” with concerns, he said, or if “they need guidance for established best practices.”

Other Ethics Issues He’ll Address: Top-level Christie officials will undergo ethics training, a chief ethics officer will be appointed, and a policy will be created on employees’ use of personal email accounts for government work.

Will Hobbs take complaints from the public and press? No.