Olympian Carl Lewis stands by claims that Christie tried to intimidate him
January 21st, 2014
09:52 AM ET
10 months ago

Olympian Carl Lewis stands by claims that Christie tried to intimidate him

Updated 10:54 a.m. ET, 1/21/2014

(CNN) - Add former Olympic star Carl Lewis to the list of names who say they felt pressured by Gov. Chris Christie's administration in New Jersey.

Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medal winner in track and field, says the Governor tried to dissuade him from running for a state Senate seat as a Democrat in 2011, according to a report from The Newark Star-Ledger.

Lewis, who grew up in New Jersey, began talking with Christie's administration and the Republican Governor himself in 2010 about becoming the state's "physical fitness ambassador," a volunteer position.

But when Lewis started considering a state Senate bid the following year, Lewis said he heard from Christie.

"When he talked to me on the phone that night, he said 'If you run, we're going to have to cancel the program'," Lewis told the Star-Ledger.

He made those allegations public in April 2011, but he says recent claims made against the Christie administration shed new light on his own case.

At the time, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak, who still works for the Governor, denied Christie tried to pressure Lewis against running, according to the Star-Ledger.

"Absolutely, positively not. And anybody who says otherwise is lying," Drewniak said.

Lewis went on to pursue his campaign in 2011 but faced legal hurdles involving residency requirements. In his on-again-off-again race, Lewis was ultimately ruled ineligible by Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State Kim Guadagno as well as a federal appeals court.

In a statement Tuesday, Drewniak praised Lewis as "a genuinely impressive human being and Olympic athlete."

"We have nothing but good things to say about his contributions," he continued. "Unfortunately, this coming now is obviously a sour-grapes rehash of a clear-cut legal issue which did not fall his way."

The former Olympic athlete told the Star-Ledger that the challenges made by the administration were "fair," given that he had voted in California elections in 2008 and 2009, which didn't meet the four-year residency requirement for New Jersey law.

Lewis did not weigh in on the recent controversy in which top Christie aides are accused of orchestrating a major traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, out of political retribution against the city's Democratic mayor.

But Lewis told the Star-Ledger that people are more likely to believe his story now that others are making allegations of intimidation by the Christie administration.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

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New Jersey Lt. Gov.: Hoboken allegations are 'offensive to me'

Christie: 'I haven't enjoyed the last 11 days'

Giuliani: Bridgegate a 'witch hunt'

Former prosecutor points to another case against Christie administration

Christie tries to move past bridge scandal


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    John

    Funny thing: Lewis is a resident of Houston, Texas. The issue wasn't him running; it was not being a resident.
    Why is this news?????? Besides, the bridge shutdown itself was caused by an anti-islam video.
    ----------------------–
    Haven't you noticed that the same people who had "threatened" Lewis two years ago just happen to be the same people who ruled against him running for office?

    "Lewis went on to pursue his campaign in 2011 but faced legal hurdles involving residency requirements. In his on-again-off-again race, Lewis was ultimately ruled ineligible by Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State Kim Guadagno as well as a federal appeals court. "

    People are not only judge, jury and prosecutor, but it's coming to light that they're looking like the antagonists, too.

    January 21, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. rla

    Thw NJ wood work is crawing with liberals making up things- At least it keeps the damage they do at aminimum

    January 21, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "Oh brother... another has-been looking for an additional 15 minutes."

    He made the accusations public all the way back in April 2011. I have no doubt the Star-Ledger sought him out to add his commentary to the list, rather than him just volunteering it by calling them himself. The Star-Ledger somewhat reluctantly endorsed Christie last year, but they've been all over these issues since the stories broke.

    January 21, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Jason

    Tony Rezko the convicted felon who "helped" Obama buy the property upon which Obama's house sits, Jeremiah Wright hating whites and Jews, Louis Farrakhan with his Fruits of Islam Army that has "teamed up" with police in Chicago, Van Jones – self pronounced communist and hired as a Czar by Obama, Bill Ayers – Just another domestic terrorist in the neighborhood, Rahm Emmanuel, who told PRIVATE BUSINESS to get out of Chicago and sent a dead fish to pollsters...

    Nothing here to see, though. Let's direct all indiscretions over here, please.

    January 21, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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