Christie Gives Job to Woman Who Got $46K Loan From Him

By BETH DeFALCO
|  Saturday, Jan 16, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 PM EDT
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Christie Gives Job to Woman Who Got $46K Loan From Him

AP

Republican Gov. Elect Chris Christie says he considers the appointment a "non-issue."

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Gov.-elect Chris Christie has given a job in his administration to a woman who received a $46,000 loan from him while he was U.S. attorney and she was a subordinate in that office.

    Michele Brown of Mendham was named appointments counsel Friday.
    
Brown was an assistant to Christie when she fell into debt. Christie and his wife made a loan to Brown, and his failure to disclose the loan became an issue during the gubernatorial campaign.
    
In an interview on Friday with The Associated Press, Christie said he thinks Brown will be an asset to the state and that she shouldn't be punished because he failed to disclose the financial agreement on his tax forms.
    
"It's a non-issue to me,'' he said. "I trust her a great deal. We worked together for a long time.''
    
"Any mistake that were made were my mistakes,'' he added. "I forgot to report it. It was my mistake, nothing that she did. So, you know, I don't think Michele should have to pay the price for that.''
    
Christie said Brown refinanced the loan in October and paid the remaining balance off to the Christies then.
    
Earlier Friday, Christie announced three Cabinet picks: Human Services Commissioner Jen Velez and Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth, who heads the National Guard, have been asked to stay on. MetLife vice president Tom Considine was named Banking and Insurance commissioner.
    
Those posts are subject to Senate confirmation.
    
Velez has presided over the human services department, which has the largest budget in the state government, and its 16,000 employees since 2007.
    
Rieth has commanded 9,000 troops in the Army and Air National Guard since 2002. There are 400 guard members from the state deployed in Iraq, Rieth said. He expects 500 to be serving in Afghanistan by the end of the year.
    
"It is no longer a strategic reserve; it is an operational force,'' Rieth said.
    
In making the announcements, Christie praised the work of Rieth and Velez, both of whom worked for Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat. Christie, a Republican who takes office Jan. 19, said he was not going change out Cabinet members just for the sake of it and vowed not to "replace Democratic hacks with Republican hacks.''
    
Christie also praised Considine for his extensive government relations and financial services experience.
    
Considine said he will focus on attracting more health insurance carriers to drive up competition and drive down costs in New Jersey, which Christie called "the most expensive health insurance market in America.''
    
"It's necessary to put a shingle out that says New Jersey is open for business,'' Considine said.

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