Christie Accused of Political Retribution

Will Bridge scandal doom New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential aspirations? May be...

Posted on 01/10/14
By Adam Peck and Josh Israel | Via ThinkProgress


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.(Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.(Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License)

Still Misleading Public?

By Igor Volsky

Via ThinkProgress

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) still insisted on Thursday (January 9) that New Jersey officials may have closed three lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September to study traffic patterns, directly contradicting statements Port Authority officials made last year.


“What I was told was that it was a traffic study, and there was no evidence to the contrary until yesterday,” Christie said at a press conference apologizing for his administration’s role in shutting down bridge lanes and causing potentially life-threatening traffic jams.


“There still may have been a traffic study that now has political overtones to it as well,” he added. But in early December, three Port Authority officials testified that “there was no traffic study being conducted while access lanes from Fort Lee on the George Washington Bridge were closed in September.”


Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye, a Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appointee, testified on Dec. 9 that the study did not exist. New Jersey’s top official at the authority, Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni — a Christie appointee — had claimed the closings were for a traffic study. Baroni has since resigned. Christie repeatedly floated the possibility of a traffic study on Thursday.


“I don’t know if this was a traffic study that morphed into a political vendetta or a political vendetta that morphed into a traffic study,” he claimed.

At a morning press conference on Thursday  (January 9), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he had fired Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff and top aide in his administration, for her role in the growing scandal involving the manufactured delays on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution and asked another aide not to seek a top position within the state Republican party.


He denied having advance knowledge about the lane closures or the involvement of his own staff. “I was blindsided yesterday morning,” he said. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee, I apologize members of the state legislature.” Christie also faced questions about his abrasive leadership style that some have described as bullying, and insisted that those characterizations are untrue.


“This is the exception,” he said. “It is not the rule of what’s happened over the last four years in the administration.”


But while Christie claimed that this was “not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years” and denied being a bully, accusations of political retribution have long surrounded the governor. For instance, former Gov. Richard Codey (D) accused the Christie administration of “sending a message” by denying him state trooper protection after he publicly disagreed with Christie. The same day, a Codey cousin was fired from his position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former Codey aide was removed from the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs.


After then State Sen. Sean Kean (R) told a reporter that Christie erred in not calling for a state of emergency sooner, during a 2010 blizzard, Christie’s staff banned Kean from attending the next news conference Christie held in Kean’s home district. A Christie aide told the Star-Ledger that Kean “got what he deserved.”


Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal saw his state funding slashed after backing a re-districting map more favorable to Democrats and last year, confirmation of a judicial candidate recommended by State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R) suddenly stalled after the legislator voted against Christie’s public medical education system reorganization.


On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey announced that he would be opening up another investigation into the lane closings, joining the state legislature and the inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who are conducting investigations of their own.


 This article first appeared in ThinkProgress. Click here to go to the original.

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