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Why Cory Booker's cozy relationship with Silicon Valley is bad for New Jersey

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FILE -- June 19, 2013: Senate candidate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker addresses a gathering of supporters during an event in Deptford Township, N.J.AP

The bulk of Senate candidate and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s personal wealth, according to a blockbuster New York Times expose, comes from a previously unknown company called Waywire, which styles itself as a “socially conscious” alternative to YouTube.

Waywire counts Oprah Winfrey, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter among its investors, but the tiny company (2,207 total visitors in June compared to YouTube’s 160 million) looks more like a multimillion dollar gift to Cory Booker than a real business.

Booker claimed last year he would have no role in directing the site’s content, which makes it odd that so many of the videos on Waywire feature Booker. 

It’s almost like the whole thing is a backdoor vehicle to promote Booker’s campaign for the U.S. Senate and funnel money to him personally. And until Thursday, the 15 year-old son of CNN president Jeff Zucker was on the company’s advisory board (complete with stock options), perhaps to ensure favorable coverage from that network.

You have to wonder how, if elected, Booker could possibly make important decisions about privacy and technology policy in an unbiased fashion in the United States Senate.

Given Schmidt’s involvement, it’s reasonable to speculate the plan was for Google, the parent company of YouTube, to buy out Waywire and provide Booker with a massive windfall at some point in the future.

You have to wonder how, if elected, Booker could possibly make important decisions about privacy and technology policy in an unbiased fashion in the United States Senate, knowing his financial future depends on his Waywire stake and a potential payday from Google.

For now the low-traffic website serves principally to bring together Booker and his big money backers at headquarters located just a block from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

That’s right: would-be Jersey senator Cory Booker put his company in New York City – even though he once told the Times that he sees Newark as “the Silicon Valley of social entrepreneurship.”

Other than videos of Cory Booker, the only notable niche tiny Waywire has developed is extreme anti-Semitic videos. When the Washington Free Beacon broke that story back in March, Waywire responded: “We are now evaluating the videos in question. We take these matters very seriously.” Five months later, anti-Semitic videos are still rampant on the site.

The New York Times, whose editorial page writers seem intent on ignoring the excellent investigative reporting from their colleagues on the news side, endorsed Booker and touted his close ties to big money from Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street. The Times actually called “his coziness with the moneyed class” an asset.

Why? Because Newark supposedly benefited from it when Booker’s buddy Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark schools. The Times neglected to mention that on Christmas Eve, when he thought nobody was looking, Booker finally complied with a court order and released documents showing that none of the Zuckerberg money is being spent in the classroom. And Newark schools continue to fail.

And while Booker used his connections to get himself fancy offices in the heart of New York’s financial district, his “economic development” approach – corporate welfare to lure in big corporations – has failed in Newark.

When Booker took office, 20 years of Sharpe James and his cronies running the city had unemployment at an unacceptably elevated 8.5 percent; after seven years of Cory Booker, it now stands at 14.4 percent. The number of unemployed Newarkers jumped over that period from 8,892 to 15,744 – a shocking 77% increase.

While Panasonic and others got property tax abatements, small businesses around Newark were being shocked with massive property tax appraisal increases.

If the editorial page writers at the Times had read their own paper back in March, they would have known that companies like Ivo Fernandes’s mechanic shop and Pedro Nogueira’s Portuguese restaurant saw their property tax appraisals double and triple. Jose Breda, who owns a 6-unit apartment building whose valuation more than doubled told the Times: “They are robbing the people.”

This from a mayor who in 2011 was delinquent on his own taxes to the tune of $2,820, while gearing up with his rich friends for the multimillion-dollar launch of Waywire.

In 2010, Booker laid off 167 police officers (despite a 20 percent increase in property taxes) and triggered a spike in violent crime, which is up 24 percent from 2009 to 2012. 

Newark schools are still failing. 

Unemployment in his city is a tragic 14.4 percent. 

Yet Newark Councilman Ras Baraka famously said “the only way you can see the mayor is if you turn on 'Meet the Press'" – because Booker is off running for higher office with the financial help of his Waywire buddies and a complicit liberal media that cares more about image – and “coziness” – than reality.

Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.