Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell drew a big red "X" over Chris Christie's picture on his Veepstakes wall, and pronounced him the first on Romney's short list to be effectively - if not officially - dropped from consideration. The reason? Chris Christie's own Willie Horton moment, a damning scandal of the worst kind for a a governor who traded heavily on his law-and-order swagger to get elected as Governor, and whose governorship has been characterized by considerable efforts to privatize the work of government. The growing scandal of the halfway houses stains both parties, for failures of oversight and for allowing CEC, the Christie-tied company running these for-profit facilities, to get away with tricky pay-to-play (andquestionable record on immigrant detention).
But our governor is the big man with the big GOP future. He's short list material, if you believe media and his out-of-state schedule. But that may all be tumbling down if the man who made him ends up breaking him. Bill Palatucci is Christie's close friend, former partner, and the engine behind the GOP string-pulling and fundraising that launched the Christie brand. And the profiteer behind CEC. But for the governor, this isn't just a matter of guilt by association. Christie is tied to CEC not only through friendship with Palatucci; Christie used to be CEC's lobbyist. And as governor, he's the one who has to stand for questions about why there are no new safeguards in place two years after David Goodell walked out of a halfway house and killed a woman who turned him down. Why is Christie not out front calling for an independent investigation of CEC?