Christie’s office pushes back amid questions about a second bridge
June 24th, 2014
04:10 PM ET
5 months ago

Christie’s office pushes back amid questions about a second bridge

Updated 5:20 p.m. ET, 6/24/2014

(CNN) – Chris Christie’s office argued Tuesday there’s nothing new about a report suggesting the New Jersey governor may have another bridge problem.

The New York Times reported Monday that Christie’s administration was warned against directing funds from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about three years ago to pay for repairs to the crumbling Pulaski Skyway.

While the Port Authority oversees bridges that connect New York and New Jersey, the Pulaski Skyway is entirely owned by New Jersey and generally a liability for the state, not the Port Authority. But Christie’s office worked to get the funds anyway and says they were legal.

Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been making inquiries about the deal, and questions about Christie’s handling of the situation have been public for months. The New York Times report reveals further insight into the investigations.

The SEC and the Manhattan DA are looking into whether bond holders were misled when the Port Authority, at the direction of Christie’s office, called the Pulaski Skyway a Lincoln Tunnel access road, when in fact, it’s over seven miles away from the underwater crossing. The question is whether that fits a legal definition of fraud.

(The Pulaski Skyway was featured in the opening credits of the popular HBO program “The Sopranos”)

The latest controversy comes as Christie’s administration has been embroiled for several months now in investigations over the George Washington Bridge traffic controversy.

A New Jersey legislative committee and federal prosecutors in Newark are looking into suggestions top aid orchestrated traffic tie-ups at the foot of the bridge in Fort Lee last year to punish that town’s mayor for not backing Christie for reelection.

Christie: Bridge scandal will be a 'footnote'

In the case of the Pulaski Skyway, Christie secured Port Authority funds that were supposed to be used for a major rail tunnel project underneath the Hudson River.

The widely-anticipated project had bipartisan support and preliminary work was already underway when Christie made a controversial move to cancel New Jersey’s participation in the project in 2011, saying it was too expensive.

While the decision gained him notoriety among fiscal conservatives, a Government Accountability Office report found that Christie grossly exaggerated the cost of the Hudson River project, as well as his state’s share of the costs.

Investigators are now looking into whether his office’s maneuvering to get the Port Authority funds for the Pulaski Skyway was a criminal act.

Christie’s office has long pushed back at such claims. His office reminded reporters Tuesday that spokesman Kevin Roberts gave a statement about the Pulaski funds in March, and that Christie spoke about it earlier this year.

“Dozens and dozens of lawyers from both sides of the river reviewed that financing plan and approved it,” Christie said at a press conference in his office in April. “As did the commissioners of the Port Authority.”

In March, Roberts stressed that the Port Authority funds were legal as they helped repair infrastructure.

“These investments in Port District roads and bridges in New Jersey were finalized in a formal agreement between the State of New Jersey and the Port Authority with the full legal review and approval of both the New Jersey attorney general and Port Authority counsel,” Roberts said.

From the beginning, Christie made it clear that he intended to redirect funds from the canceled interstate rail tunnel toward a New Jersey road project. In January of 2011, he said, “I make no apologies, especially with the Port Authority, for money that was earmarked for New Jersey projects to make that money stay in New Jersey to improve our infrastructure."

Also in April, the governor said he directed his people to find a way to appropriate the money for infrastructure projects in New Jersey. “They came back and said this was an appropriate way to do it and the Port Authority approved it.”

In a written statement, the New Jersey attorney general’s office said they “took responsibility for reviewing and negotiating the agreement with the Port Authority, on behalf of the Department of Transportation, for the $1.8 billion in infrastructure improvements that included the Pulaski Skyway.”

The Port Authority of New York and New also released a statement saying, “The Pulaski Skyway agreement was analyzed and negotiated by lawyers on all sides. Separately, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe has served as standing underwriters' counsel on Port Authority bond issues for more than 25 years, reviews all Port Authority bond disclosures and other matters, and has provided appropriate opinions to the underwriters on those bonds.”

CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein

    It is starting look like another bad story for the fat man. Is it over if he sings?

    June 24, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Of course...CNN's first mention of this is spun as all about what Christie has to say, not simply a detailed explanation of the facts and issues being investigated, what they are accused of doing and how it would be illegal.

    June 24, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Karen

    He should have his hard drive crash.

    June 24, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. CALIFORNIA

    THIS is a scandal. Not like those fake ones republicans complain about.

    June 24, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    The criminal Dems will continue to try and find some way to eliminate the candidacy of Christie.........because they fear his popularity.

    June 24, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Move along people, nothing to see here. Don't you see the halo over Crispy's massive head???

    June 24, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Leaving that part out is like writing a story about OJ's trial and leaving out the part about the glove or the lengthy White Bronco car chase....and it was done deliberately to avoid talking about the precise facts that make this sound very bad for Christie and actually suggest that there was some element of wrongdoing and misleading of the bond investors. The accusations are not without substance as CNN would have you believe by failing to inform you. The same names we've been hearing with respect to Bridgegate are surfacing as being involved.

    June 24, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Riddick

    He need to learn for Obama. Lie, delay, ponder, do nothing and most of all attack anyone who questions you.

    June 24, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Why is this news? Conservatives excel at shifting money around to their pet projects while gutting funds for people who had not voted for them. They've always done that, then look oh-so shocked as they are led away in cuffs.

    June 24, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Lily

    Folks, the New Jersey Bridge Gate is one example of testing how people think and come up with their own judgement. One has to ask self question: how did Chris Christie get known? What did he do once he was aware of anything which was within his own circles before the Bridge Gate happened? Once you answer these questions correctly, then you will come up into terms that Christie is not a stupid man that he was kept unaware what was going on during Bridge Gate Scandal. If he was so quiet like Scott Walker some including me have to believe him that he wasn't aware. But that wasn't the case. Christie has been a pompous guy ever since, who used to put his nose in everything which was going on in his State. He is a big liar if he says he wasn't aware about the Bridge Gate.

    June 24, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Winston Smith

    Can not imagine this person being given access to the country's highest office. Not because of his weight, or his possible complicity in two bridge scandals. What irk's me about the man is his lack of principals and complete lack of dignity. If he say's he had no idea of what was going on during his administration, he'd make a poor leader in the White House. If he's claiming to be in the dark about his contemporaries/underlings in his administration, he's a poor judge of character when hiring people to do jobs where public interests are at stake. Either way he's just not the person for the job at hand.

    June 24, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Say WHAT???

    Lefties and Dims attacking Christie for spending money on fixing the NJ infrastructure??? Isn't that the sum total of Obama's jobs plan for the entire country? WHy are they attacking Christie for doing exactly what they have been demanding be done around the country? Could it be partisan politics?

    June 24, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Rick McDaniel says:
    June 24, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm
    The criminal Dems will continue to try and find some way to eliminate the candidacy of Christie………because they fear his popularity.

    Would that be anything like the fear that Hillary puts in the GOP? Like bringing up her husbands scandal from 20 years ago? Or like them bringing up an almost 40 year old court case, where a very young Hillary was doing nothing except her job, by defending her client? Is that the fear you speak of Ricky?🙀🙀

    June 24, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Stuffitu

    Compare the coverage on the major news networks and thw NYT.WahPo of this bridge thing to the Obama use of the IRS target ting of his political enemies. Any doubts about the bias of the mainstream media.

    June 24, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Sniffit
    Of course...CNN's first mention of this is spun as all about what Christie has to say, not simply a detailed explanation of the facts and issues being investigated, what they are accused of doing and how it would be illegal.
    --–

    In other words CNN is reporting the facts and not the lies and spin of the lefties. But you have a problem with that because you want the leftist smear to be included.

    June 24, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Leaving that part out is like writing a story about OJ's trial and leaving out the part about the glove or the lengthy White Bronco car chase.."

    Of course, the previous post was moderated so you can't tell what I was referring to. That part that CNN left out is this: Christie didn't want NJ to have to pay for the Skyway's rehab, so he pressured the Port Authority to find a justification for using its funding for it...funding that comes from selling bonds to investors. So, the Port Auhtority...and yes, tis involves all the names you've been hearing in Bridgegate already...came up with the loosey-goosey justification that the Skyway was a "connector" or "access" road to the Lincoln Tunnel. Never mind that the two are not directly connected. never mind that the Skyway ends a couple miles or so from the tunnel. Never mind that it would be more accurate to say that the Skyway more directly points folks towards the Holland Tunnel. Never mind that this is a big stretch by the terms of any traffic study in relation to development projects etc. So it gets paid for by the Port Authority to the tune of $1.8B and Christie then used the $1.8B saved for NJ to patch up his budget and polish his "fiscal conservative" bona fides...at the expense of these investors. This could run afoul of both NY's Martin Act, which prohibits misleading bond investors/holders (makes it a felony), and several federal statutes about doing the same thing to investors. By leaving that out, CNN wants you to believe the accusations are frivolous and just being thrown about in some sort of political vengeance circus, etc. They're not. They're very serious and there are facts to support them.

    June 24, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  17. Tony D

    Winston Smith
    Can not imagine this person being given access to the country's highest office. Not because of his weight, or his possible complicity in two bridge scandals. What irk's me about the man is his lack of principals and complete lack of dignity. If he say's he had no idea of what was going on during his administration, he'd make a poor leader in the White House. If he's claiming to be in the dark about his contemporaries/underlings in his administration, he's a poor judge of character when hiring people to do jobs where public interests are at stake. Either way he's just not the person for the job at hand.
    --

    And yet Obama has done this almost ten times in the White House but you have no problem with that. Wonder why?

    June 24, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Lefties and Dims attacking Christie for spending money on fixing the NJ infrastructure???"

    It wasn't NJ's money. Your ridiculous post screams that you don't even have the first clue about what this is about.

    June 24, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Yeah, updated 5:20. Why did I have to call you out at 4:16 and 4:37 before you bothered?

    June 24, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. MaryM

    Krispy is going down like a sweet muffin. (reference in the Dodge ball movie)

    And what Krispy did redirecting the funds from the rail tunnell was Illegal because it was NOT disclosed to the bond holders and everyone knows it!!

    June 24, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. A. Humble Voice

    Yep he's a charismatic bully that appeals to the "enlightened" dunderhead voter. Geez let's forget about his personality, the guy–like most republicans of any ilk–couldn't manage a Wendy's. Have some pity on the gullible public and remove this loudmouthed narcissistic boob from public office.

    June 24, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Al-NY,NY

    with fanatics like frothy Santorum and Joe McCarthy Cruz in the running, Tubby will have to tack SO far to the right just to win the nomination, it will be McCain/Flip Flopney all over again..........lose

    June 24, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |