NJ Gov. Chris Christie to address press over traffic scandal

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) participates in an onstage interview.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) participates in an onstage interview.
Credit: Reuters

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible Republican White House contender enmeshed in a scandal over his staff’s role in shutting down lanes onto the busy George Washington Bridge, will meet with reporters Thursday, his office said.

Christie’s office said he would hold a news conference at his office in the state capital of Trenton at 11:00 a.m. EST.

The controversy erupted with the public release of incriminating emails showing a top Christie aide played a key role in closing some lanes leading to the bridge in a ploy to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. The George Washington Bridge connects Manhattan in New York City to Fort Lee.

The incident now threatens to tarnish Christie’s image and national standing as he weighs a bid for the White House in 2016.

The blunt, tough-talking governor has enjoyed immense popularity at home, particularly after his handling of recovery and rebuilding efforts following Superstorm Sandy, and he was re-elected in a landslide in November.

Local tabloid newspapers jumped on the latest developments, with the New York Post running the headline “Chris in a jam” on its front page. New York’s Daily News, taking a poke at Christie’s heft as well as his political aspirations, wrote “Fat chance now, Chris.”

After the emails were released to the media, Christie said in a written statement that he had been misled by his staff and knew nothing of the lane closings before they occurred.

He said he was “outraged” by the “completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct.”

The abrupt lane closures, which lasted four days in September, caused hours-long traffic jams in the borough of Fort Lee, at the New Jersey end of the bridge that carries some 300,000 vehicles on a typical day. It is one of the world’s busiest spans.

A local New Jersey paper reported that, as a result of the lane closures, emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations. One involved an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died of cardiac arrest and another, a car accident, in which four people were injured.

Christie has touted his ability to work with political opponents – most notably President Barack Obama after the devastating 2012 storm – as a mark of his skill at overcoming partisan divisions and forging alliances to get things done.

But he is known for engaging in shouting matches, hurling insults and belittling challengers, and news that his staff exacted retribution from a small-town mayor by causing headline-making traffic jams undermine his efforts to present himself as tough, but not a bully, experts said.

“These emails destroy all of that effort in a single day,” Matthew Hale, an associate professor of political science at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, said on Wednesday.

In the most damning email, Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote to a Port Authority executive in August, saying: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The executive, David Wildstein, replied: “Got it.”

In another message sent amid the gridlock, an unidentified author wrote: “Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” and Wildstein responded: “No.”

The emails do not give a specific reason for the closings, which kicked off on the first day of school in Fort Lee. Among those trapped for hours in traffic were children on school buses.

The emails were supplied to the media by Wildstein, the Port Authority executive, in response to a subpoena issued by a panel of state lawmakers.

A long-time Christie ally, Wildstein admitted ordering the lane closures and resigned in December. He was due to testify before the panel on Thursday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…

Local

Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…

Local

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…

News

U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…

Music

See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

NFL

Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.

NFL

Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.

NFL

John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…

NFL

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid

Career

Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…

Sex

We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…

Style

Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Style

Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.

Comments

1

  1. Mark Sokolich: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Christiet: I’m shocked, shocked to find that traffic is going on here!
    [a PA official hands Christie a pile of money]
    PA official: Your payback, sir.
    Captain Christie: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    [aloud]
    Captain Christie: Everybody stop at once!