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A.G. AshBritt Dismissal….Exoneration Or Obstruction?

One characteristic of this blog that makes it fun to do is that many of its readers are smarter than its author.  It took one of those sharp-minded readers to connect the dots on two separate topics that have been covered here but that had never occurred to me might be related.

One caveat before you continue:  Please allow yourself about an hour to work your way through this presentation.  There are four videos as part of it and I strongly suggest you watch them in sequence, in their entirety, and without distraction.

The first story begins with the ethics charges Jim Bean filed against Mayor Doherty about the AshBritt contract.  Here is his May, 2013 letter to the state Local Finance Board, which is an arm of the state Department of Community Affairs:

Bean letter1

Bean letter2

On August 29 the Department of Community Affairs wrote to Doherty and stated that it was referring the complaint to the Sandy Fraud Unit of the N.J. Attorney General’s Office.


Untitled 2

Many of us suspected this was a punt by the Local Finance Board because if you read the end of the letter it states that by that action the Board is required to close its own investigation.  It should be noted that three members of the Local Finance Board have conflicts with regard to Doherty.  But let’s give the Board the benefit of the doubt and assume that they saw enough evidence to suspect that criminality might be involved.

At this point we’ll leave the Attorney General’s Office to do its work.  We’ll report its findings later on in this presentation.

Ten days after Doherty received his bad news there was a huge traffic jam in Fort Lee.  It lasted for three days.  Bridgegate was on!

And it was bad.  No need to go into details here about it but everyone agrees it did severe damage to Chris Christie’s credibility.  Enough damage that Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer felt she could finally tell the secret she had been keeping without becoming political road kill.

On January 18 of this year, at the height of the Bridgegate media explosion, she appeared on the MSNBC show “Up with Steve Kornacki”.  She alleged on the show that back in May of 2013 Lieutenant  Governor Kim Guadagno and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable had on separate occasions told her that Hoboken Sandy relief aid would be withheld unless she approved a development project proposed by the Rockefeller Group.  At the time Rockefeller was being represented by Port Authority boss and Christie ally, David Sampson.

One of those occasions was at a public television panel discussion on the recovery from Sandy.  The panelists included Dawn Zimmer, Richard Constable and our own Matt Doherty.  Doherty’s proximity to the two made him a star witness for the Christie Administration even though he gave two entirely different accounts.   When initially contacted by an Asbury Park Press newspaper reporter after the Zimmer allegations surfaced, Doherty denied hearing any such conversation:   “I sat next to Mayor Zimmer and, if I recall correctly, (Constable) was on my other side.”   Read it here.   The Christie Administration provided copies of this article to news outlets as proof that Zimmer’s claim was untrue.   But MSNBC’s Rachel Madow quickly responded with a photo taken of the panelists at the taping of the Monmouth University program which showed that Doherty’s memory was faulty, and that he had actually been sitting on the opposite side of Zimmer from Constable.  See it here.   Nevertheless, Doherty would remain a star witness in the Randy Mastro  internal investigation into Zimmer’s allegations.   Mastro’s memo summarizing his office’s interviews with Doherty reflects that by the time of Mastro’s first interview with Doherty on January 28, 2014, less than 10 days  after Doherty had misremembered sitting between Zimmer and Constable and hearing nothing, Doherty now recalled not sitting between them and hearing not only what Zimmer and Constable had talked about 7 months earlier, but also what Constable had not said.

The $3 million Mastro report, which found Christie to be as innocent as Bambi, was released March 27, 2014.


MSNBC guy Steve Kornacki does a great job with this.


Pretty nasty remarks about Zimmer in Constable’s statement.  If she was telling the truth (and I strongly believe she was) that would make Constable not only a crook but a real jerk.


Here is the next segment, where Kornacki interviews Doherty.


Kornacki finds Doherty’s answers to be “confusing and self contradictory”.  (Welcome to our world, Steve.)  Here he discusses Doherty’s credibility, or rather the total absence of it.


Mastro could not have been very pleased about the interview or about Doherty’s email to Kornacki the following morning.  His report’s entire defense of Christie was resting on Doherty’s statement in that report that he had heard the entire conversation and that Constable never said what Zimmer alleges he said.  Not only did Doherty equivocate on whether he heard the entire conversation, he contradicted Constable’s account of what the conversation was about.  (Personally, I believe that Doherty was telling the truth when he originally told the Asbury Park Press that he didn’t hear the conversation.)


Kornacki reports on Mastro’s reaction:


The interview memoranda of the Mastro report was released only after a tremendous amount of public pressure.  It revealed that of the 75 witnesses cited in the report only one was contacted again AFTER the report was released and that was Matt Doherty.  Here is the full memorandum on the Doherty interviews:

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Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.33.10 PM

So on the morning of April 8, just before the memorandum containing the interview notes is released, 12 days after the Mastro report is released and 8 days after Doherty flubs the Kornacki interview, Mastro places a call to Doherty.  Looks to me like they are trying to salvage his credibility and make sure he doesn’t stray again from the official story.  Wouldn’t you love to know what was said between the two of them?





Hey look, it’s dated April 8!  Same day that Mastro called!

Not only is the timing of this letter quite…um…interesting, but why is it addressed to Matthew “Dougherty”?  They investigated the guy for 7 months but never investigated how he spells his name?  Also why is it sent to the borough and addressed to him in his official capacity as mayor?  This was a criminal investigation of him personally and not any business of the borough government.  It should have been sent to his house.

This letter sure looks like it was prepared in a hurry.  If this was the carefully arrived at conclusion of a long investigation they wouldn’t have made mistakes like those.  I’m guessing the decision to drop the investigation came on April 8 and the letter had to go out that day.

Was the investigation dropped in exchange for Doherty’s promise to cooperate in discrediting Dawn Zimmer?  Or perhaps it just seemed problematic for their star witness, upon whom the credibility of the report’s findings rested, to be someone who’s under criminal investigation.  Maybe they wanted to get that out of the way before anyone noticed.   Either of these scenarios would be a reason to rush the letter and either one would constitute obstruction of justice.

One more thing worth noting.  Doherty waited nearly a month before releasing the letter.  I remember thinking at the time that it was rather odd.  Perhaps he thought that if he had released it around the time the Mastro report memoranda was released that somebody would have noticed the connection?  If that’s the case it did work…… least for a while.



  1. Mark Levis wrote:

    Hahahaha, that’s your “big story” they spelled Matt’s name wrong.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  2. George wrote:

    It has been 2 years since the storm Sandy hit our area. To date we still do not have one pavilion replaced thanks to the narcissist, egotistical,biased,greedy,and self serving interests of some Ladies and Gentlemen. If the registered voters of Belmar do not change this they deserve what they get.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink
  3. Annie wrote:

    Excellent reporting (way too little of that going on anymore) Steve Kornacki laid it out – and you and your sharp minded reader tied it up. Beautiful! Perhaps next you can examine how the Laborers International Union of NA became so invested in Belmar. So much so they sent out expensive glossy mailers on Doherty’s behalf to fund a very local election, went door to door campaigning for him and attended – in number – not one but two of our small one mile square town council meetings. Curious. Or maybe not. Christie also came to Belmar (yet again) to support Mayor Doherty right before our little local election – and the laborers union endorsed Christie – a Republican – for re-election last year which is unusual. Or maybe not, this time. More dots for you to connect …

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  4. Guest wrote:

    Now that video interview involving Matt Doherty was way to uncomfortable to watch.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  5. Shrugged wrote:

    Mark Levis must be a Doherty supporter. Not to bright. I clearly see the simultaneous acts of closing the investigation and Doherty’s agreeing to work with the Gibson Dunn report. wow, what a coincidence!

    Mark,I though you would of ate the applesauce with the rest of the hale bopp comet \ heavens gate crowd. Good to see you survived.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  6. Guest wrote:

    Like in this video, Steve Kornacki plays the robber (althouh his gun is his unrelenting sharp sense) and Matt Doherty plays Ralph Kramden in a classic “humanah .. humanah” moment.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  7. Mike S wrote:

    Let’s face it Belmar, this is the same “truth” used to explain how Belmar selected two firms tied to Mpublic affairs-Maggie Moran. It was “a coincidence” that Bill Young just happened to select them. Those self serving actions have cost us dearly and will continue to cost us. Jon Derouville who was kicked off the job to make way for Maggie’s gang is suing us and I fear our defense may be the same professional description of “they sucked” our former $100,000 a year administrator Bill Young used to describe Broadco. Full Disclosure Broadco is suing Belmar also. If our defense is “they sucked” this isn’t over for Belmar for both of these lawsuits (or maybe it is over and we won’t be happy with the results).

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  8. Southie wrote:

    Paybacks are a bitch. Great documentation of the pairing of two peas in a kayak, wait that can’t happen, with Christie. Let’s just say these two are a great match of lies and deception.

    PS spoke with a person pretty high up at the Army Corp of Engineers yesterday, an extended family member, who knew. The biggest issue with Lake Como and moving forward might be that it is designated as a dam and subject to very technical regulations. Calling it, a “coastal lake” to bid for a Community Block Grant that may or may not really exist will not blind regulators to the lake’s correct designation. I mention this topic as Christie’s in town today, to be paraded past Lake Como and discuss our eligibility for a grant. I’m thinking there just might be a table set up with doughnuts over by North Blvd., just saying… but I digress. There is a strong and suspicious connection with Christie and Doherty and it keeps growing and appears to be about to explode. I do think this could lead to Christie’s nerves driving him to eat more, and Doherty is stammering a lot lately. Watch his eyes in the video they reveal much. I am disgusted with this town and state. If our leadership does not change in Belmar, we are personally in for a big financial disaster in the next 4 years.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  9. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    In May I filed an ethics complaint with the State against James P ( Jaime) Fox. Fox contributed to Matt Doherty’s 2010 campaign. No others on the Local Finance Board did BUT, Director Tom Neff and another Democratic lobbyist Ms. Rodriquez had a conflict/not stated so they recused themselves. Not only has the NJ State Ethics Commission not responded to my May 2014 complaint ( which they must do by law,) but, the Governor recently appointed Mr. Fox to the Commissioner of the Dept. of Transportation.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  10. admin wrote:

    Thank you, I’ll make the correction.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  11. Guest wrote:

    Some key points in the following video –

    03:30-4:45 – Like a kid caught up in something. Humana, Humana, Humana – Answer the question!

    8:08-8:35 – What the heck is “Mazard Mitigation?” This interview seems to have heated-up?

    9:59-11:30 – Oh well, the rest of this interview just seemed to slide downhill fast.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  12. excuse me wrote:

    Mayor Doherty forgot to bring his spin-o-matic with him.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  13. Guest wrote:

    Too bad you spent all day on this instead of something to actually help the town. You are obsessed with Matt to a level of serious concern. Get well soon.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink
  14. Brendan Reilly wrote:

    Just watched our Gov on the news tell Jim Keady he should roll up his sleeves and get busy helping Sandy victims while the Belmar Mayor justed there and watched . I guess the mayor forgot all the time Jim Keady put in for his town during it hardest time. Jim didn’t ask for a penny or even a thank you much like Paul Lee and others in this town. But I guess the Mayor forgot if that doesn’t tell you about the Mayors character I don’t know what will. True colors coming out. Sorry for any spelling or gramer mistakes but it is what it is.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  15. Brian Pringle wrote:

    He actually was clapping when the gov started to rip into Jim.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  16. Cathi De Genova wrote:

    A new low for NJ.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink
  17. Guest wrote:

    It is interesting watching Chris Christie and Matt Doherty march their way around Main street thanking themselves once again. Enough is enough as there still are real people in need from Sandy who are not getting the help they were promised, 2 years later.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  18. Guest wrote:

    It really is all quite simple. Dear Matt Doherty, thank you for your work immediately after Sandy. Now, you’re dismissed.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink
  19. watchingmyback wrote:

    I would not want Mayor Doherty in my corner if I were in trouble. I saw Mr. Keady being interviewed on MSNBC last night in which he claimed that he did indeed “roll up his sleeves” and help out after the Sandy storm, even given a truck by the Borough to help haul materials. I would think that Doherty must have known who he was and should have been aware of Mr. Keady’s hard work in helping out after the storm. He did not somehow stop Christie during his tirade, but instead let Jim be slammed by the governor’s rough words. Doherty watched in silence. He let Christie blast the guy, in error, as the governor did not obviously know who Mr. Keady was, I would think, and did nothing to bridge the gap. (Mr. Keady was disruptive, but with a purpose.) Seems like the mayor is a turncoat to me, a “user” for his own publicity.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  20. Guest wrote:

    Doherty absolutely knows who Jim Keady is, but feeds off of his bully mentor Chris Christie’s belittling of people. Has anyone ever watched Belmar council meetings on this blog and watched how Doherty is dismissive to residents? That was all before his highness Doherty enacted his new rule of no longer replying to residents who ask questions at the end public portion of the meetings.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  21. BEN REAL wrote:

    Doherty threw Jim Keady under the bus right next to Dawn Zimmer!

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  22. Tulip wrote:

    To Guest 13: In case you haven’t noticed there are a lot of people reading this Blog who understand what is happening in this town. The Blog has answered a number of questions and explained a number of legal questions. This has been a very BIG help to the town. I do not see obsession I see facts, truth and a desire for some more people to get it. Try it you might like it.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  23. robin wrote:

    To Guest 13, a wise person once said that if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything; however, at the same time, to paraphrase a famous quote, evil abounds when good men do nothing (or do not bring the foulness to light). Read and learn.

    Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  24. Joe wrote:

    Kinda proud it was in Belmar where a heckler called out Christie.

    Wonder if this will start a trend?

    Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

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