Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie: Will 'Bridge-Gate' Put an End to His Presidential Bid?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chris Christie: Will 'Bridge-Gate' Put an End to His Presidential Bid?

Article excerpt

Nobody ever said politics in New Jersey was beanbag. More like rough-and-tumble - "do unto others before they do unto you" - and Governor Chris Christie became a master of the art, more likely to shout down an aggressive reporter (or constituent) than to suffer gladly those he saw as fools.

So it may not have come as a surprise (certainly not a shock) to many New Jersey politicos to learn that close allies of Gov. Christie had planned and carried out a little dirty trick against a Democrat perceived as an enemy: lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, which caused massive traffic problems in Fort Lee, N.J., whose mayor (a Democrat) had declined to endorse Christie's 2013 re-election bid.

This week, David Wildstein, a director at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in the lane closure. Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his former top appointee to the authority that controls the bridge, Bill Baroni, have both been indicted in the scheme inevitably dubbed "Bridge-gate."

The documents unveiled Friday paint the trio as vindictive and petty bullies who plotted - and then covered up - a scheme to gridlock the town of Fort Lee to punish its mayor.

"These high level government officials misused the Port Authority, its employees, and their public positions for political purposes with total disregard of the negative consequences it would have on the public and Port Authority," Port Authority Inspector General Michael Nestor said as the indictments were announced. "This case should serve as a wake-up call and warning to those public servants who might consider abusing their official positions for their personal benefit, or the benefit of others."

The Governor had to respond, asserting that "Today's charges make clear that what I've said from day one is true, I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act."

"The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperate with all appropriate investigations, which I have done," Christie said in statement. …

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