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Pilkington reports: "Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, was facing two powerful new investigations on Monday that could further erode his standing as he tries to save his 2016 presidential bid from being derailed by the George Washington bridge scandal."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks about his knowledge of a traffic study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference on January 9, 2014 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. (photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks about his knowledge of a traffic study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference on January 9, 2014 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. (photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)


Christie Facing Fresh Investigations

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

14 January 14

 

  • State committee formed to investigate 'Bridgegate' scandal

  • Christie also faces investigation into use of Sandy relief funds

hris Christie, the New Jersey governor, was facing two powerful new investigations on Monday that could further erode his standing as he tries to save his 2016 presidential bid from being derailed by the George Washington bridge scandal.

On Monday, Christie's nemesis, John Wisniewski, the Democratic state assemblyman who has been leading the inquiry into whether Christie's aides conspired to cause traffic chaos at the bridge in an act of partisan revenge, announced the formation of a new super-committee of the legislature that will pursue the investigation "wherever the facts may lead us". The new body will have the assistance of full legal counsel.

The second investigation disclosed by CNN on Monday involves the federal department of housing and urban development that is looking at whether the New Jersey governor misused relief funds for superstorm Sandy to advance his public profile as he stood for re-election. That investigation is particularly sensitive for him, as much of his appeal as a possible Republican presidential candidate is founded upon the favourable impression he made nationally in his handling of the October 2012 storm.

The launch of the investigations comes at an inauspicious moment for Christie. On Tuesday he delivers his "state of the state" speech in which he will unveil his aspirations for New Jersey over the coming year.

The new super-committee of the Democratic-dominated New Jersey assembly is likely to be granted subpoena powers at a special session of the state assembly on Thursday. Wisniewski said the first subpoenas are likely to be handed down on that day, with an initial target being Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff who issued the now infamous instruction last August: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee".

Christie sacked Kelly last week, insisting he had been deceived by her into thinking that his office had had nothing to do with four days of traffic mayhem last September inflicted on Fort Lee, the town that sits beneath the George Washington bridge. The town's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, had previously refused to endorse Christie for re-election – thus apparently incurring the wrath of some members of the governor's inner circle.

Wisniewski told reporters on Monday that it was premature to discuss calling Christie himself to testify before the new super-committee. But he added that "our concern is that there was apparently a massive abuse of power and an attempt to conceal that abuse of power." He promised a "dramatic overhaul" of the Port Authority, whose board members are divided between appointees of the governors of New York and New Jersey.

The "Bridgegate" scandal is throwing an ever-wider net across key members of Christie's team. Almost 2,000 pages of documents released by the assembly on Friday contain the names of several people close to the governor who were informed of the traffic problems caused in Fort Lee early on yet apparently failed to inform him of the furor.

They include Regine Egea, Christie's current chief of staff, who on 13 September was forwarded an irate email from the New York official Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, in which he called the unannounced closure of access to the bridge from Fort Lee "abusive" and a threat to public safety. Another senior official now in the spotlight is David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority and a Christie appointee, who last week was referred to in one email exchange between the governor's team as "helping us to retaliate" against Foye's decision to reopen the closed lanes.

"When you have so many people in the governor's inner circle who received information about the fall-out, the traffic jams and the efforts to spin them, it strains credibility that all these people whose job it is to keep the governor informed did absolutely nothing," Wisniewski said.

The HUD investigation into Sandy concerns the spending of $25m of federal relief money designed to help the recovery of the battered New Jersey shore by attracting tourism back. Federal auditors will explore whether the funds were directed towards a TV advertising campaign that benefited Christie in his re-election campaign by featuring him and members of his family.

Representative Frank Pallone, the New Jersey Democrat who initially asked HUD to investigate the spending of the relief fund, told CNN that the successful TV ad campaign featuring the Christies had cost $4.7m while another proposed series of TV commercials that did not put the governor and his family on screen would have cost just $2.5m. "This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery," he said.

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+41 # fredboy 2014-01-14 09:27
It's over even though the fat man did not sing.
Now the GOP will parade its typical bottom feeders--Rubio, Paul, et al.
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street must be having a slumber party.
 
 
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-01-15 06:17
What is amazing to me is that the Federal Government may not have adequately "put strings" on how the Federal money was to be used and in what realistic time frame the money was to spent. Lots of people are hurting, want to restore their home life. Sort of like the man (in this case the family) who waited so long for his ship to come that the dock fell over.
 
 
+70 # bmiluski 2014-01-14 09:42
Since the the huge traffic jams on the bridge were all over the news I find it hard to believe that christie did not hear about it and then demand something be done about it.
 
 
+5 # Susan1989 2014-01-14 23:20
Its like having an elephant living in your kitchen and claiming that you didn't notice it...LOL
 
 
+21 # Peter B. K. 2014-01-14 09:56
The search for THE best! - President, lest we forget what it's all about - seems to start at the bottom.
 
 
-1 # dquandle 2014-01-17 13:08
ands stays at the bottom the entire time, up through the elections, and consistently elects the bottom of the bottom, as we have now, and as we have punctiliously in each past election.
 
 
+13 # minggnim 2014-01-14 10:27
Can anyone say, "Plausible deniability"?!
 
 
+44 # obx1212 2014-01-14 10:45
The TV ads are small potatoes. IF Christie's administration was/is as politically venal as has been suggested, I would suggest that the investigations look at which towns got Sandy aid; how much; how timely. Lots of discretion there to allocate resources to reward and to punish for political reasons.
 
 
+27 # iplau 2014-01-14 11:16
How is anyone surprised by the vidictive and retaliatory practices exhibited by Christie and his enablers. It is the modus operandi of conservatives everywhere and Congress should also be investigated for these practices that effectively shut down government and cost tax payers dearly in the process. Obama has been vilified, government workers have felt their wrath, but isn't it time Congress was fully investigated? Is McAuliffe about to make the same mistake Obama made? When are Democrats going to learn that there is no such thing as compromise? Republican definition of compromise is that you adopt a position that agrees with theirs. We have now seen how far all these conservatives will go to get their own wishes and the middle of the road policies aren't it, it's their way or the highway that best describes their ideals.
 
 
+20 # Feral Dogz 2014-01-14 11:42
"When are Democrats going to learn that there is no such thing as compromise? Republican definition of compromise is that you adopt a position that agrees with theirs."

This is so true and the crux of the problem. Conservatives have spun the discourse so far to the right that Eisenhower (seemingly the last Republican with a brain) would now be way left of center.
 
 
0 # dquandle 2014-01-17 13:11
the "Democrats" are always more than happy to adopt a position agreeing with the Republicans. They are indistinguishab le murderous criminal arms of the same beast.
 
 
+13 # indian weaver 2014-01-14 11:47
The GOP presidential campaign is likely to conscript even more laughable idiots than the last campaign's Rick Perry and what's his forgettable name, the pizza guy, not to mention the main vapid dolt Romney. Stay tuned for the national comedy, repeated with new comedians (I know, they think they are serious contenders, which makes them, and the GOP, even funnier).
 
 
+1 # edwin_ 2014-01-15 10:07
Yes it is funny . but it also is tragic that almost half of the US population take them serious and vote for them . Even Christie is seen as a hero to conservatives because they will do whatever it takes to keep their guy in . I remember the conservatives supporting Nixon up until the end
 
 
+18 # giraffee2012 2014-01-14 12:14
With so much corruption in the NJ political arena, it is time for somebody to call in the FEDS, FBI, or how can the citizens of NJ ever expect a "fair" anything for their TAX $?

We pay taxes to live in a democracy (idea from Jon Stewart) and when the democratically elected officials can damage you, your family, your friends, neighbors, etc. by "willy nilly" shutting down a bridge (or other such prank) without being held accountable, you're in big trouble.

Even though the Koch brothers (et. al.) have bought up most of the mid-east (of USA) and probably the South (wherever) and those politicians don't prosecute each other (and can LIE to allegedly get away with murder, even) then it's time for the COUNTRY to step up and vote these criminals out - in spite of not having enough $$ to compete on TV, etc.

OVERURN Citizens United is step #1. To do this we need a progressive President (elected, not selected by the Supremes) to fill the vacancies of Scalia/Thomas who are going to have to retire, in some fashion, soon).

Citizens United is not a law that follows the U.S. Constitution and the RATS that claimed otherwise in 2010 should be (also) held accountable.

I would like nothing more than to see Scalia/Thomas/A lito/Thomas sitting behind bars - or better yet, dethroned.
 
 
+4 # Stilldreamin1 2014-01-14 16:38
Remember not too long ago when Christie scuttled the rail freight link from Jersey to Manhattan? Mainstresm Mainstream media attributed his last minute refusal to being fiscally conservative. What if his motives werr less about public policy and more about protecting the lucrative trucking industry. A freight rail link to Manhattan and Long Island would serve the greater good but notvthe trucking industry. Do we dare question Christie's motives in this surprising decision?
 
 
+5 # kitster 2014-01-14 16:52
people, people, people. of course, christie will survive bridgegate. but he will not survive the pachy primary. he won't be able to out-pekoe the real pekoe pretenders. besides, and judging from his past performances, he'll probably call somebody an idiot in the debates.

we progressives must worry, though, because the country's had it up to here with obama...the conflicted and constricted potus. and hillary is a corporatist hawk. so who's gonna lead the u.s. of a. into the 21st century...after we've already wasted the first years of the millennium?
 
 
-3 # dquandle 2014-01-17 13:13
Hillary is a vicious murderous criminal, just like her former boss and current president.
 
 
+5 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-01-14 19:28
BYE, BYE FATBOY. And good riddance to another corporate hack. Vote the leeches out of office. Take back "our" government. Wake up America.
 
 
+2 # ganymede 2014-01-14 23:25
I am so thrilled and also appreciative of Gov Christie. Why such a supposedly 'smart' guy could do something so stupid is beyond me, but we will forever be grateful for the sacrifice he has made. I'd love to see him prosecuted, but that may not happen, alas. His implosion, however, will rapidly change the political dynamic in the US. Many people whose poor judgment has allowed them to enthusiasticall y vote for these misfits and scoundrels will hopefully have second thoughts the next time around. Christie and the rest of the Tea Partiers and sell-outs like most of the other moderate Republicans are, as a group, much worse than the hapless Democrats. If we can clear out a few dozen of these rightwingers from Congress then we will be able to seriously pressure the conservative Democrats and, at least, start on the road to recovery. I know that the left purists want something more, but Democrat cum Progressive politics is now happening as our country not so slowly moves leftward. Thanks Chris....
 
 
+3 # Nominae 2014-01-15 04:05
All I can say is this could not have happened to a nicer guy.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Karma's a bitch.
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2014-01-16 18:30
Christie keeps saying that there was a traffic study and hasn't, as far as I've seen, recanted that position. Someone needs to ask to see the data because if there really was a study, there must have been someone somewhere counting cars on different entrance ramps and access roads.
 

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