maxomai: dog (dog)
NBC reports:

FBI agents have begun questioning witnesses in the investigation into whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's aides threatened to cut off Hurricane Sandy relief money to Hoboken unless the city's mayor backed a billion-dollar development project, three sources with direct knowledge of the probe told NBC News on Wednesday.

It's easy to speculate that this spells big trouble for Chris Christie and his staff. I'm still skeptical that this will go anywhere. Remember Fitzmas?
maxomai: dog (Default)
If you have eighteen minutes, then watch this.

To summarize Rachel Maddow's discussion: Christie claims that he wasn't interested in obtaining Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich's endorsement for his re-election campaign. Could it, then, have been a warning shot across the bow of other New Jersey Democrats, in order to obtain their endorsements, and make a bigger showing in 2013 to make a stronger case for Christie's Presidential run in 2016?
maxomai: dog (dog)
New developments have arisen since I posted about the Christie/George Washington Bridge story.

The biggest story IMO is that the closures of the GWB delayed EMS response to four calls from Fort Lee. In one case, the patient, a 91-year-old woman, died later. Keep an eye on this, because the persons responsible for the lane closures are going to get sued, if not arrested.

Not quite as big a story, but still huge, is that Christie has issued a blanket denial of any knowledge of the orders issued from his office:

"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. 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. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions." - source

LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian thinks this affair ends Christie's shot at a Presidential run. Democratic political analyst James Carville appears to agree:

I think Carville's half right. The political damage to Christie is going to get a lot worse. The flip side is that the actual big winner today isn't Jeb Bush, it's Hillary Clinton. I'm still not counting Christie out yet, but he's in a deep hole right now, and it's getting deeper.
maxomai: dog (dog)
By way of background: the George Washington Bridge, which connects Fort Lee, NJ, to Manhattan, is the busiest bridge in the world. On September 9th, the first day of school for Fort Lee, three lanes of the GWB were closed by the New Jersey Port Authority, supposedly as part of a traffic study, creating an epic traffic nightmare that shut down most of Fort Lee. Last month, Rachel Maddow and others started reporting on indications that the closures may have been revenge for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's refusal to endorse Christie in his bid last year for re-election. The Governor's office adamantly denied that the closures had anything to do with them. That's where things stood as of yesterday, and can find a timeline of the unfolding of the scandal up to today here.

Today, news site, the web presence of The Bergen Record, released emails they obtained (pdf) that tie the closures of those lanes directly to the Governor's Office. Quoting their story on those emails:

The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000, which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest.

Needless to say, Mayor Sokolich is pissed, and two Democratic NJ legislators are calling for a Federal investigation into the matter. You can read more about this at CBS, the New York Daily News, or elsewhere.

Why, you ask, does this story have national importance? This poll illustrates why:

CNN/ORC Poll released 26 December 2013:
For President (General, 2016)
Chris Christie (R) 48%
Hillary Clinton (D) 46%
MOE 3%
N=950 registered voters nationwide

Simply put, if Hillary Clinton decides to run for President, Chris Christie is the only Republican who stands a good chance of beating her. She creams everyone else in the field. It's therefore to the Democrats' advantage to paint Christie as a petty, spiteful jerk who's not above abusing his power over relatively minor slights. For this reason, I pretty much ignored the reporting of this story on MSNBC and other talking head outlets as having ulterior motives. These emails change all that, because they give the story real weight. Not to mention legs.


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