Folks, I was on the Kelly file hosted by Megyn Kelly on Friday night to discuss the latest allegations about New Jersey governor Chris Christie and they do not paint a nice picture of him.
If you haven’t heard, the attorney for David Wildstein, the erstwhile Port Authority director of interstate capital projects and the person most responsible for implementation of the closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge, says that he has evidence that Chris Christie knew about the scandal during the time the bridge lanes were closed, which is much earlier than Christie says he did and also that he was aware of the Patrick Foye email before he said he was.
There is a common character these scandals take when in the person at the center of them is guilty of doing something wrong and is desperately trying to hide that fact.
They come out and do a big press conference where they deny everything, they say they did nothing wrong and had no idea about wrongdoing, and then drip, drip, drip, the evidence that they did not tell the truth and that they are guilty of whatever it is they are being accused of slowly and painfully comes out. Not all at once and sometimes the first revelations aren’t exactly smoking guns, but it starts with evidence that there were things said in that big press conference that were just not true.
Something told me when Governor Christie held his January 9th press conference where he denied participating in or in fact all prior knowledge of any wrongdoing in his administration regarding Bridge-gate, that this was not going to be the end of his problems with that issue.
For starters, the suggestion that Christie, who claims to be this extraordinary leader and manager and is in fact a micromanager and bully and who portrays himself as this guy who is on top of everything but on this one issue issued a couple of dozen denials that he knew what was going on until way after it was over, those two versions of Christie that he wanted to feed us seemed incongruous non credible.
He claimed in his press conference that he didn’t begin to know something was wrong until press reports began to surface about Patrick Foye’s email. Patrick Foye is the Executive Director of the Port Authority and his forceful email on September 13th, the fifth day of the George Washington bridge lane closures is what ended the lane closures.
The bridge closures occurred from September 9th to September 13th. Press reports about Patrick Foye’s email didn’t start coming out until October 1st. That is when Governor Christie says he realized the lane closures were some kind of issue.
What I want to make sure everyone understands is that the dual level George Washington Bridge which connects Manhattan and New Jersey and serves 102 million vehicles per year is the most heavily trafficked bridge in the world.
This bridge is arguably the most important piece of infrastructure in a metropolitan area with a lot of important infrastructure. In order for someone to believe Christie, you would have to believe that the Governor of a state would ignore a massive ongoing five day crisis with the most important piece of infrastructure in his state and wouldn’t look into it at all.
Honestly, who would believe that? Obviously the justice department doesn’t believe that which is why a Federal investigation complete with the FBI having agents involved is currently going on with regards to bridge gate.
I want to talk about some of the important reasons I think that Governor Christie is guilty of wrongdoing in Bridge gate, but before I talk about that, I think it’s important to remind you all that there is a second federal investigation going on regarding the Christie administration concerning the Christie administration’s use of the Superstorm Sandy funds and there are several allegations involved.
The first is that Christie improperly chose between two bids for marketing the relief efforts. There was a bid that would cost $2.5 million dollars and a bid that would cost $4.7 million dollars and again this was just for marketing, not actually rebuilding anything. The costs would come right out of the relief funds. Christie chose the $4.7 million dollar effort and here is the kicker, the $4.7 million dollar plan involved advertisements featuring Christie and his family. The lower priced campaign did not.
Also, as reported by NJ.com, Gov. Chris Christie helped channel $6 million in federal Hurricane Sandy recovery dollars to a project conceived years before the storm struck, in an Essex County town that was not particularly hard hit, records show. The funding, pushed for personally by the Republican governor, was announced less than two weeks before the town’s Democratic mayor Raymond Kimble formally endorsed him for reelection. The development is an $18 million senior center and housing complex in Belleville called Franklin Manor. One third of the cost — $6 million — is being paid for by a $1.8 billion pot of federally funded Community Development Block Grants to help the state recover from Sandy.
There are also the well-known allegations by the mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer that she was told if she did not endorse Christie’s re-election, her relief funds for Superstorm Sandy would be affected.
Remember how Republicans and the conservative media jumped all over her and called her allegations non-credible? Well emails surfaced on January 28th backing up her story.
The NY Post, again, not a liberal media institution by any stretch of the imagination reported that newly released e-mails indicate Gov. Chris Christie’s administration pressured the mayor of Hoboken to approve a huge development project even during a meeting centered on Hurricane Sandy relief funds, according to a report.
One e-mail to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer lists the first item on the agenda for a meeting about Sandy funds was “review of concepts for flood control measures at Rockefeller property,” The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The property refers to a billion-dollar complex that was being proposed for the city by a Christie-connected developer.
Zimmer requested the meeting after a severe rainstorm last May flooded Hoboken and raised concerns that the city could be devastated again.
She said she would not discuss the project at the meeting, the Times said.
The next day, Zimmer received a call saying Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno would be visiting her in Hoboken.
At that infamous meeting, Zimmer claims Guadagno and another Christie staffer demanded she push forward the redevelopment plan or risk losing all the Sandy recovery money.
On January 18th, the Washington Post reported that in September, Adam Schneider, the liberal mayor of the New Jersey shore town of Long Branch, was having trouble with the state utility board. After repeatedly getting the run-around, Schneider decided to instead try his luck with the office of Gov. Chris Christie.
Schneider’s call came four months after he crossed party lines to endorse the 2013 reelection of Christie (R), whose performance he admired after Hurricane Sandy. Schneider said that the governor never promised him anything but that he believes he has received “enhanced” access to state officials since the endorsement.
The same Washinton Post article says that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has said the Christie administration suddenly yanked his access to a contingent of top officials slated to offer guidance on navigating the state bureaucracy after he declined to back the governor.
So we start to see a pattern here with how the Christie administration did business. The word pattern may not even do justice to what this suggests.
Since I promised to do so, let’s talk about some of the lies or suspicious behavior by Chris Christie regarding Bridge gate:
1. Christie claims not to have known about the Bridge lane closures until after it was over. But he met with the person who was one of the prime people responsible for it, Mr. Wildstein, on September 11th in New York, in the middle of the whole mess and while the Mayor of Fort Lee was screaming about it to everyone who would listen. Remember the lanes were closed from September 9th to September 13th. September 11 was right in the middle.
2. On December 12th, the Wall Street Journal reports in an article by TED MANN, ERICA ORDEN and HEATHER HADDON that Chris Christie phoned New York Governor Cuomo about Patrick Foye and the closure investigation to try to get him to back off of the investigation. A day later, and ever since, including in his January 9th press conference, Christie has tried to deny speaking with Cuomo about the investigation. The article specifically says:
a. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week to complain about a Cuomo appointee's handling of a growing controversy over traffic pattern changes on the George Washington Bridge, a person familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Christie, a Republican, complained in a private phone call to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, that Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was pressing too hard to get to the bottom of why the number of toll lanes onto the bridge from Fort Lee, N.J. was cut from three to one in early September, according to this person. The lane closures occurred without notice to local authorities, officials have said, and snarled traffic for a week in the small borough on the Hudson River bluffs.
This particular issue isn’t so easy for Christie and his goons to use the typical response which is to pass it off as an attack by that quote Liberal media. We all know the Wall Street Journal leans conservative.
3. In response to Wildstein’s lawyer saying this past week that Christie knew about the lane closures and why they were occurring during the crisis, not afterwards as Christie claims, Christie issued a statement saying this corroborates his previous assertions that Governor Christie did not know about the lane closures in advance. As Megyn Kelly pointed out when she and I discussed this on her show last night, those two statements are not mutually exclusive. If you take them together, there is a simple statement that is true in both assertions and that is that Christie knew fairly early on in the lane closures what was happening.
All three of these issues cast extreme doubt on the assertions made by Christie in his January 9th press conference.
I think we can safely say a couple of things about bridge-gate at this point. The intersection between the statements of Wildstein’s attorney and the statement released by Christie’s camp along with the things I outlined earlier regarding the experience and statements of Democratic mayors in New Jersey and their experience with the Christie administration suggests to me that Governor Christie fostered a climate in his administration where it was routine not only to offer quid pro quos, where support for the Governor by mayors and other local officials garnered one favorable funding for projects and similar concessions, on the flip side of that, the lack of such support of Christie by local officials resulted in retribution and punishment.
Governor Christie expected his staff to threaten and carry out such measures. It is demonstrated in repeated instances how this was the case. I think Governor Christie expected that the mayor of Fort Lee Mark Sokolich would support his re-election because of the killing of the Hudson train tunnel which would have diverted traffic and business from Fort Lee. Christie looked at that as a favor and expected quid pro quo in the form of an endorsement of his reelection.
When he didn’t get that, he expected his staff to retaliate. Whether he explicitly said it or not, and whether he explicitly said to close the lanes on the bridge as part of that retaliation is immaterial. Christie actively fostered quid pro quo and retaliatory policies as a part of normal doing business for his administration.
You see this with Bridgegate, you see it with the way Christie used the money for superstorm sandy when I went over that earlier this is how the Christie administration did business.
I feel sorry for my friends just over the Hudson river in New Jersey. People don’t deserve to have elected officials who engage in corrupt practices. These quid-pro-quo and retaliatory actions take money away from doing the state’s business, they waste the taxpayers money. The people of New Jersey did not deserve to have Superstorm sandy relief funds spent needlessly on a more expensive ad campaign that featured the Governor and his family. They didn’t deserve to have superstorm sandy relief funds go to a mega-complex in a city that received little to no damage in the storm. They didn’t deserve to have EMS responders in Fort Lee require four times the normal response time to respond during the lane closures and the people of New Jersey didn’t deserve a situation where parent’s in Fort Lee couldn’t get their kids to school those days. The estimated money lost to New Jersey commuters alone in gas and time from bridge-gate is estimated at over $20 million. That’s just the beginning in terms of estimating money lost from that event.
It is starting to come out, it is all going to come out folks. It is going to come out that all of the worst allegations regarding Chris Christie and his administration are true.
It’s obvious now. And you know what, I think a lot more examples of quid-pro-quo and retaliation haven’t come out yet. As I said, the sense I get is that this was the way the Christie administration went about business all the time. There may be dozens, scores or even hundreds of examples before we are over folks.
It’s really sad, this is going to be the second major corruption scandal facing New Jersey in the last couple of decades, the other one being ABSCAM now being featured in the film American Hustle.
I can’t even begin to fathom the number of indictments and convictions that we are going to see. Like the examples of quid pro quo and retaliation that will come out the numbers could be pretty high before it is all over.
Let’s hope that those responsible for all of this, including the Governor, resign, take responsibility and get this over with so that the people of New Jersey can begin the process of rebuilding their state government. Yes, I just said Chris Christie should resign. I laid out the reasons, I don’t think there should be even a question left about that at this point. This is one of the most corrupt state administrations in American history. When it is all said and done I think Chris Christie is going to make Rob Blagojevich look like a boyscout in comparison.