William J. "Bill" Palatucci (born 1958) is an American attorney, Republican National Committeeman and New Jersey Apportionment Commission. Palatucci was the White House Transition Coordinator for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and the General Counsel to the presidential transition before being terminated from this position on November 10, 2016.
|Republican National Committeeman|
from New Jersey
|Assumed office |
Serving with Virginia E. Haines
|Preceded by||David Norcross|
|Born||1958 (age 61–62)|
Haskell, New Jersey
|Alma mater||Rutgers University (BA)|
Seton Hall University (JD)
Palatucci has served as the Finance Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, was a senior advisor for the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. He has also worked for President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. He retains a close personal and professional association with Governor Chris Christie, serving as the Chairman of Christie's 2013 re-election campaign and Co-Chair of his Inaugural Committee in 2014 and 2010. He serves as counsel to the Leadership Matters for America PAC.
Palatucci is presently Special Counsel at Gibbons, P.C. He has been named as one of the most powerful people by NJBIZ every year that the ranking has been published. He earned an Emmy Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Talk Program Series for "The Battling Bills," a program he created jointly with William J. Pascrell, III. Palatucci serves on the Board of Visitors of the Seton Hall University School of Law and on the National Advisory Board for the Rutgers University Heldrich Center, as well as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Phoenix.
Early life and educationEdit
Palatucci was born in New Jersey and is one of five children of Frank Palatucci, proprietor of Frank's Tavern in the Haskell section of Wanaque, New Jersey, located next door to the family's home. According to Palatucci, his father was a "lifelong Republican" who was 50-years-old at the time of his birth; during World War II the elder Palatucci served as chair of the ration board of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Bill Palatucci says that, due to his father's work schedule, the few times the pair socialized was when they would watch Crossfire together. He is of Italian heritage and has been described as a "devout Catholic".
Palatucci graduated from Rutgers University where, in his final year, he worked as chauffeur to Thomas Kean during his election campaign for governor of New Jersey. He later went on to receive a J.D. from the Seton Hall University School of Law.
Described by some sources as Chris Christie's "right hand", Palatucci has worked as an organizer and fundraiser on a number of Republican political campaigns since the 1980s, including serving as New Jersey executive-director of Bush-Quayle 1992. He was elected to the Republican National Committee in 2010 and subsequently went on to serve as co-chair of Christie's 2013 campaign for Governor of New Jersey.
Since 2010 Palatucci has served on the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, which is responsible for drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries in New Jersey. He formerly served as chair of the Westfield, New Jersey town recreation commission.
During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Palatucci was one of four informally designated "whips" on the party's rules committee who had been tapped by the Donald Trump campaign to quash a possible insurrection by the "Never Trump" movement. Afterwards, he was appointed by Christie as general counsel for the planned presidential transition of Donald Trump but was removed from this position in November 2016.
Palatucci began practicing law at the Trenton, New Jersey law firm of Dughi & Hewit in 1993, initially heading the firm's government affairs practice. In 2001 he was made a partner of the firm, whose name was changed to Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci. During the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign of 1992, Palatucci met Chris Christie whom he recruited to the firm, ten years later recommending Christie to Karl Rove for appointment as United States Attorney.
Palatucci subsequently went on to serve as general counsel of Community Education Centers, leaving the company in 2012 after his relationship with Christie, then governor of New Jersey, came under media scrutiny; Community Education Centers was the recipient of millions of dollars worth of contracts from the State of New Jersey. As of 2016 he is counsel at Gibbons, P.C.
Halfway Home ControversyEdit
Palatucci was a senior executive for Community Education Centers (CEC), a nonprofit organization which operates halfway homes across the country. In his role as senior executive he lobbied for the Center to have increased state aid. Ultimately the inmates were being diverted from entering public prisons where stricter restraints would prevent attacks and assaults by escaped inmates, according to a lawsuit. In 2012 a lawsuit by law enforcement unions violations of state law by acing county inmates into the care of Palatucci’s nonprofit. The county which filed the lawsuit was Essex County which is led by County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, a democrat ally whom endorsed Christie’s reelection. Community Education Centers came under scrutiny for avoiding pay-to-play laws through its shell company, Education and Health Centers of America. The avoidance of such regulations led to the Essex awarding Community Education Centers a county contract.
In 2011 New Jersey's state comptroller issued a report highlighting that about half of the state's $62M half-way home contracts were held by Education and Health Centers of America. Although laws requiring that such programs be non-profit, CEC's contracts were paid to its for-profit by using its political connections. It is believed that the agreement to allow the for-profit to operate was struck either between Palatucci or Chris Christie. In 2010 CEC's political contributions were at $110,000.
A New York Times investigation uncovered Palatucci’s lobbying efforts by Palatucci on behalf of Community Education Centers. In 2010 Governor Christie’s budget increased funding for halfway homes, increases as large as $3.1M.
Assaults in the halfway homes led to lawsuits, one which arose from an inmate being strangled to death. Derek West Harris was murdered by three other inmates, highlighting the dangers that continued at Community Education Center’s Essex County facility known as Delaney Hall. Harris’ murder led to an investigation by Essex County which ultimately decided not to press any charges.
As of 2016 he serves on the Board of Visitors of the Seton Hall University School of Law and on the national advisory board of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
Awards and recognitionEdit
- From 2011 through 2016, Palatucci was named one of the "100 Most Powerful People in New Jersey Business" by NJBIZ magazine.
- Palatucci was named "Distinguished Alumnus" for 2014 by Seton Hall University's School of Law.
- In 2015 Palatucci received the "Good Guy Award" from the Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey.
- "Commission Membership". apportionmentcommission.org. State of New Jersey. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Elise Viebeck (11 November 2016), "Pence replaces Christie as leader of Trump transition effort", The Washington Post, retrieved 12 November 2016
- Johnson, Eliana (16 December 2013). "Christie's Right Hand". National Review. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "A Conversation with Bill Palatucci". PBS. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "William J. Palatucci". gibbonslaw.com. Gibbons P.C. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Sullivan, Joseph (25 October 1992). "Behind Congress Races, The Presidential Factor". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "Bill Palatucci". gop.com. Republican Party. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Friedman, Matt (10 November 2010). "Republicans choose panel members to redraw legislative districts". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- "Memorial Park Plan Tops Rec. Commission Agenda" (PDF). Westfield Leader. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Salent, Jonathan (30 June 2016). "Top Christie adviser trying to protect Trump from convention challenge". New Jersey Star-Ledger. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Epstein, Reid (15 July 2016). "How Trump's Nomination Could Still Be Stopped". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Sherman, Jake (31 July 2016). "EXCLUSIVE – TRUMP starts building transition committee". Politico. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Campaigns Invited to White House Transition Meetings". TIME Magazine. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
- "Donor name: Palatucci". opensecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Beale, Stephen (4 February 2016). "Christie's tough guy stance can't conceal a caring heart". New Boston Post. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Dolnick, Sam (16 July 2012). "Finances Plague Company Running Halfway Houses". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Portnoy, Jenna (8 November 2012). "Top Christie adviser resigns from day job at Community Education Centers". New Jersey Star-Ledger. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Friedman, Alexi (2012-08-22). "Lawsuit charges Essex County contract with halfway house in Newark violates state law". nj.com. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
- Friedman, Matt (2013-06-11). "Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo endorses Christie". nj.com. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
- "New Jersey Is Sending More Of Its Prisoners To Low-Security Halfway Houses-www.njmonthly.com". New Jersey Monthly. 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
- Dolnick, Sam (2012-08-21). "Suit Says Newark Halfway House's Operation Is Illegal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
- "Press Release – Mayor Giuliani Announces New Jersey Supporters". presidency.ucsb.edu. University of California at Santa Barbara. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Roig-Franzia, Manuel (1 July 2015). "The human opera takes the stage". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "Board of Visitors". shu.edu. Seton Hall University. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- "Honoring William Palatucci Esq., Recipient of the Good Guy Award". wpcnj.org. Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey. Retrieved 31 July 2016.