New Jersey governor Chris Christie cannot breathe a sigh of relief just yet. When the news that September’s epic traffic jam scandal on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey was a political ploy to teach the city’s mayor not to withhold his support for the governor, Christie acted swiftly in denying any knowledge of the event until after the fact. Such a response was exactly what the public needed to hear were Christie to keep his career intact. It may also boost his image for his own party to receive the potential nod from his party, as the 2016 presidential candidacy begins.
Unfortunately for Christie, former Port Authority official and long-time friend David Wildstein recently asserted this is not true–that Christie did, in fact, know of the situation all along. Such a revelation, if proven, would all but remove the potential presidential candidate from the 2016 race, and probably derail his political future altogether.
Wildstein, a classmate of Christie’s in high school, resigned his position as the authority’s director of interstate capital projects back in December as the news about the traffic jam began to come out. Wildstein claims that not only did the governor know about the situation as it was happening, but that many of the statements Christie has since made about Wildstein are untrue as well, alluding to a scandal. This situation if not handled properly by the Republican party favorite, may cloud any runs for the 2016 nod, but the scales are tipped in Christie’s favor.
Initially disguised as a mere traffic study, the closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge caused significant problems for several days. In the most extreme cases, this even resulted in holding up police and ambulances from responding to emergencies in a timely fashion.
Although Chris Christie could certainly do without this kind of publicity, the allegations remain somewhat unfounded at this time. The disgraced and disgruntled Wildstein has an obvious motive behind bringing down Christie with him, and it is entirely possible the claims his attorney made in the letter accusing Christie are not possible to confirm.
For his part, Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich is handling the scandal with patience and calm. The mayor made it clear that he does not wish the ensuing investigation to be considered a witch hunt, but rather a justified and dedicated search for the truth in a very serious matter. Sokolich also did not hesitate to point out that the charges Wildstein has presented against Christie’s administration must be taken with a grain of salt considering the traffic jam resulted directly in his resignation.
Planning for this incident began in August, when Wildstein received a letter from Christie’s former campaign manager, Bridget Anne Kelly, stating simply that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Christie immediately dismissed Kelly when this news behind the gridlock came to light.
The always honest and direct Chris Christie has built a reputation for being one of the rare politicians who speaks his mind and stands up for what he thinks is right without being overly mindful of the way his remarks are perceived politically. The bridge scandal may amount to more untruths than proven facts. A definite early favorite for the Republican party nod in the 2016 election, any hard evidence that proves Christie knew more than he claimed to know would have to be seen as a huge loss not just for the governor, but for the party as a whole.
by Spencer Hendricks