New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is battling for his political life, as a legislative committee and a U.S. attorney probe his administration’s role in Bridgegate. So naturally Christie has lawyered up. Yesterday he hired Randy Mastro, who is being referred to in most stories as a “defense attorney.” That may be factually true, but it’s also highly misleading.
From his days fighting the Mafia as an assistant U.S. attorney to Rudy Giuliani through his current efforts to get Chevron out of a $9.5 billion pollution penalty in Ecuador, Mastro’s talent is for going on the offensive. He’s smart and tenacious, whether in high-volume phone calls to reporters as a Giuliani deputy mayor or in his more recent private sector cases, like doggedly accusing the Working Families Party’s campaign operation of violating campaign finance laws. Mastro was a repeated thorn in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s side. He helped Cablevision help kill the West Side stadium project and, on behalf of the livery-cab industry, delayed the approval of smartphone-taxi-hail apps. Mastro also sued, unsuccessfully, to try to stop Bloomberg from being allowed to run for a third term.
Christie says Mastro will conduct an “internal review” into the Fort Lee fiasco, but the governor’s new helper is unlikely to be passive. “Randy is a prosecutor,” a New York pol says. “You don’t hire him to play defense.”