Christie denies divisive culture, says he would have stopped lane closures had he known
April 24th, 2014
05:39 PM ET
3 months ago

Christie denies divisive culture, says he would have stopped lane closures had he known

(CNN) - If Gov. Chris Christie’s administration had come to him beforehand and told him of the plan to close down access lanes at the George Washington Bridge last September he claims he would have stopped them.

“I knew nothing about it, had nothing to do with it, and if anybody had ever come to me and told me they were going to do this I would have stopped it,” the governor said at his 120th town hall meeting in Brick, New Jersey on Thursday.

The remarks came when an audience member asked Christie how to defend the governor to friends and relatives. Len Ludovico, a retired teacher from Point Pleasant Beach, said he thought Gov. Christie was too intelligent to risk his political career and his integrity on “something as petty as lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.”

The 71-year-old then asked the governor how he should defend Christie against allegations that he “created a culture that would have approved of such behavior.”

“The allegation that somehow this was a culture that was created just doesn’t have any basis in fact,” Christie said.

He told an audience of about 500 people that his record of creating bipartisan consensus on a variety of issues and policies shows that he has not created a culture of divisiveness. He blamed such allegations on partisan politics.

“Some days I don’t mind it. Some days it gets me really upset. But in the end this is the business we’ve chosen and you got to deal with it,” said Christie.

The question about the allegations of politically-motivated lane closures in Fort Lee, a controversy that has roiled the governor’s administration for months now, came at the end of a town hall meeting that focused on the Superstorm Sandy recovery effort. The process has been plagued by delays, mounds of red tape and frustrated homeowners.

But Christie asserted that New Jersey had made tremendous progress in recent months. The governor said they’ve helped more than 18,200 of the 18,500 families who applied for assistance through the Homeowner Resettlement Program and 70% of the funds went to low and middle income families.

The governor said more help is on the way with another $1.4 billion in federal aid expected to enter the pipeline in mid-May.

Even so, two men in the audience told tales of frustration as they tried to get their homes repaired. They said the rental assistance they received through Sandy recovery programs would run out on April 30th and with nowhere else to turn they feared they would be out on the streets.

Gov. Christie sounded a familiar refrain as he placed much of the blame on Congress’ slow response and the federal government’s red tape. But he told the men that state-run programs had improved and help is available to them.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Tommy G

    Democrats STILL got ZERO, nada, zilch that shows Christie knew of or had anything to do with these lane closures. But that won't stop the Democrats from spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on their bigus witch hunt all for political reasons. Lies are all they have so they will go with it.

    April 24, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Yeah. What he said: he knew nothing ... he saw nothing ... nobody told him nothing.

    A true statesman.

    April 24, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    -at that stature, so he does not know. Do you believe this bully? I do not.

    April 24, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    --I am tired if people calling lies when it GOP. well, where is WMD, Halliburton contracts, trickle-down loots. Oh!! Not lies! Better shut up.

    April 24, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @Tommy G
    Democrats STILL got ZERO, nada, zilch that shows Christie knew of or had anything to do with these lane closures. But that won't stop the Democrats from spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on their bigus witch hunt all for political reasons. Lies are all they have so they will go with it.
    --------
    I say we hound Christie with no evidence as long as tin foil hats hound the Benghazi and IRS Conspiracies.

    April 24, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @Tommy G
    Democrats STILL got ZERO, nada, zilch that shows Christie knew of or had anything to do with these lane closures. But that won't stop the Democrats from spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on their bigus witch hunt all for political reasons. Lies are all they have so they will go with it.

    Sorry Tommy, The Career Criminal Darrell Issa is the one using our tax dollars for witch hunts. Get a clue.

    April 24, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. just asking

    did obama know about the irs? nsa? benghazi? fast & furious? but the left wants you to believe christie knew or should have known. just more of the same smear and deceit.

    April 24, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Two words: Plausible Deniability.

    April 24, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  9. J Anthony

    @Tommy G: you mean like Issa and the IRS witch-hunt? How much taxpayer $ wasted there? Enough of your hypocritical partisan whimpering. Both parties do it to eachother, sometimes it's justified, sometimes not.

    April 24, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. Chris-E...al

    0h @gurgy give it time hun he didnt do it .

    April 24, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. dazzle ©

    I do not believe him at all. Someone who is such a control freak would never have his underlings make a move to shut down traffic to the GWB. He knew nothing just doesn't fly with this situation.

    April 24, 2014 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Dose anybody remember the movie " A Bridge To Far " ?

    Christie has a clean alibi , he was in the Virgin Islands with friends when the traffic jam happened .

    April 24, 2014 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  13. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    What a load of crapola.

    April 24, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  14. bcrunner

    @TommyG: So, it's ok for the governor to spend a million bucks to exonerate himself, but it's not ok for the legislature to look into who and why they did it? So, since you are so smart, can you tell who and why they did it?? And who hatched the idea?

    April 24, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  15. Mike in Texas

    @Tommy G

    I haven't heard anyone leading any investigations saying Christie ordered the lane closures and is guilty. The investigations are going to see what happened, who knew and when did they know. However, Darryl Issa's investigations are working backwards. Issa has his conclusions already and he is trying to cherry pick evidence to support this. The Christie investigation is more like the Watergate investigation; deliberate and methodical.

    April 24, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    A very famous and well respected past President of the USA had the sign on his desk that said " THE BUCK STOPS HERE". Governor Christie would do well to stop his "JUST" Denials approach and I had nothing to do with it!!
    He should if he is truthful deny and involvement or approval of the GWB lane closures but accept "the buck stops with him"
    Having been a senior corporate executive, not knowing what your subordinate(S) are doing is no excuse ( also ignorance of the law is no excuse) you carry the can and get fired if its a significant downside for the business.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    April 25, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  17. Peace

    People's trust in him has already gone. Not easy to revive it back even if he can say he knew nothing million times. As simple as that!

    April 25, 2014 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  18. Bob Marley

    Who cares if he didn't know anything?

    The face that his leadership created an environment where his core team felt it was OK to close a bridge already says enough about Christie.

    He's either a criminal or a poor leader.

    April 25, 2014 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  19. cmml

    @Lynda/Minnesota:
    He does sound an awful lot like Obama doesn't he. Difference is, Christie has said it once – Obama says it every time something goes wrong.

    Maybe Christie is more Democrat than Republican.

    April 25, 2014 06:51 am at 6:51 am |