Nicolo MachiavelliA federal grand jury charged a Democrat fundraiser for New Jersey’s Governor for extorting cash and political contributions from a citizen in exchange for favorable treatment by the state.
Here are the high points:
A Jersey Farmer named Halper has land that the state wants to condemn. The State offers farmer $3,000,000. A Democrat fundraiser for Governor McGreevey, named David D’Amiano, (who, when not raising funds for the Governor operates a waste hauling and recycling business) approaches the farmer and offers the state’s help with the condemnation in return for a payment of $20,000 in cash and another $20,000 contribution to the State Democrat Party.
Unbeknownst to fundraiser, farmer goes to FBI and wears a wire for future meetings.
Farmer tells Democrat fundraiser that he wants a meeting with the Governor and some county officials to discuss the price of his farm. He also tells the fundraiser to tell the government officials to use the word “Machiavelli” during the meeting as a code word in order to signify that the government officials knew of the deal and approved of the political payoffs.
At a future meeting, one of the county officials was recorded using the code word “Machiavelli”
Apparently yet another government official also used the same word:
About a month later, D’Amiano introduced Halper to the governor at a fund-raiser at the East Brunswick Hilton. During their conversation, McGreevey allegedly told another official there that Halper “was reading from ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli to learn how to deal with the negotiations involving the farm,” the indictment said.
When recently asked about his use of the code word, the Governor responded, “It is not a code word, it is a literary allusion.” He continued, “For those of you who know me, in New Jersey politics ‘Machiavelli’ is not a far-off, remote word but all too often describes certain political antics.”
Halper eventually paid approximately $40,000 in cash and political contributions, and the state changed the price it was willing to pay Halper for the farm from $3 million to $7.2 million.
And, a good deal of it is on tape.
This could be one to watch.
Update 7/8/04: Governor McGreevey responded to the indictment, which he concedes refers to him and does so 83 times, as: (a) politically motivated, (b) conjecture and innuendo, (c) an attempt to besmirch his character and integrety, and (d) entrapment. Time will tell, I suppose.