Sponsored By:

   The Nation  |  Business  |  Equipment  |  Features

Industrial Parts Dep

Democrats intensify Christie scandal inquiry

A new special Assembly committee will be charged with finding out how high the plot went up Christie's chain of command, said a leading state Democrat, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald.

By Angela Delli Santi & Geoff Mulvihill
The Associated Press

1/14/2014

TRENTON, New Jersey — Democrats in New Jersey sharpened their aim at Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Monday, forming special legislative committees to explore the role politics played in traffic jams last fall and announcing that the investigation has grown into an abuse of power probe.

The intensifying investigation, which threatens to undermine Christie's second term and his chances at a 2016 presidential run, revealed last week that high-ranking Christie aides and appointees were involved in closing lanes on the bridge linking New Jersey to New York City as apparent political payback that led to massive gridlock in the town of Fort Lee.

A new special Assembly committee will be charged with finding out how high the plot went up Christie's chain of command, said a leading state Democrat, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald.

"It is clearly an abuse of power," he said. "The question is, who abused their power and how high did it go?"

Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party, has apologized over the lane closings but denied involvement. He also fired a top aide and cut ties with a political adviser who'd been widely seen as a potential campaign manager if Christie runs for president.

The scandal widened last week when documents were released showing that, in addition to the apparent political retribution by Christie's team, the mayor of Fort Lee asked Christie's top deputy at the transit agency whether the lane closings were a punishment for him and why.

The mayor, Democrat Mark Sokolich, had noted that he didn't endorse Christie for re-election but told CNN last week that he couldn't recall "a specific request to endorse" from the governor's campaign staff.

Sokolich shifted away from that assertion Monday, saying in an interview at his law office that he did consider a request from the Christie campaign but ended up supporting the Democratic candidate. He declined to say why he changed his account or answer other questions about his interaction with the campaign.

Christie must figure out how to address it when he gives his State of the State address on Tuesday. His administration has not revealed what he might say, but certainly it will now have a bigger audience and announcements about tax cut plans will no longer be the most anticipated part. The same could be true at the governor's inauguration for a second term next week, set to take place on Ellis Island, historically a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants. The setting is meant to showcase Christie's inclusiveness and ability to appeal to a broad swath of voters.

He also faces renewed interest in the state's use of $25 million in federal money for an ad campaign to promote New Jersey tourism after Superstorm Sandy.

Associated Press writer Katie Zezima contributed from Fort Lee. Follow Delli Santi on twitter at: http://twitter.com/AngeDelliSanti

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.



Celadon