Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Messages Tie Christie Aides to Lane Closures on George Washington Bridge

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TWC News: Messages Tie Christie Aides to Lane Closures on George Washington Bridge
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As Governor Andrew Cuomo was basking in the Albany spotlight, his counterpart in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, was hunkered down behind closed doors, grappling with the fallout of a widening scandal, one related to the agency that he and Cuomo jointly control. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Up until now, it was speculation: did Governor Chris Christie's office order the closure of George Washington Bridge local access lanes in September, causing gridlock in the town of Fort Lee, whose mayor, it just so happens, didn't endorse Christie for re-election?

Wednesday came the bombshell emails to prove it. In one, Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, writes to Port Authority appointee David Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." "Got it" is the response.

Another exchange notes the Fort Lee mayor had complained of problems getting kids to school. "Is it wrong that I am smiling?" says the sender, presumably Wildstein. "No," is the response..."They are the children of Buono voters," referring to Christie's opponent, Barbara Buono.

Brigid Harrison is a professor of political science and law at Montclair State.

"This is a real black eye," Harrison said. "To find out that people very close to the governor, people, high-ranking officials in the administration not only knew about it, but it appears perhaps were part of the planning of it, I think sends shockwaves."

The Port Authority, which controls not only the George Washington Bridge and other Hudson River crossings, but also the city's airports and the World Trade Center, is a bi-state agency, jointly controlled by New York and New Jersey, which has historically created some tensions.

Cuomo, who, like Christie, is considered a potential 2016 presidential contender, has so far offered little comment.

Christie canceled his one public event Wednesday and late in the day released a statement, saying, "I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge...This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."

It was a sure sign that this scandal is far from over.

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