Another resignation comes in Christie administration over bridge scandal
December 13th, 2013
01:06 PM ET
9 years ago

Another resignation comes in Christie administration over bridge scandal

Updated 3:23 p.m. ET, 12/13/2013

(CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Friday the resignation of New Jersey's top Port Authority official Bill Baroni, as controversy swirls regarding allegations that politics played a role in a traffic study that closed several access lanes to the George Washington Bridge–one of the busiest in the world–in September.

Christie said Baroni accepted responsibility for not following the right protocols in approving the traffic study, which was led by a political appointee of Christie, David Wildstein. The lane closures caused major traffic delays on the bridge, which runs from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to New York City, and is part of Interstate 95.

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"Mistakes are made and when mistakes are made people have to be held accountable for them," the Republican governor and potential presidential candidate said at a press conference.

The Port Authority, which is run jointly by New Jersey and New York, oversees the tunnels, bridges and seaports between the two states, as well as the metropolitan area's airports.

Port Authority officials testified before the New Jersey state legislature Tuesday that the closures were done at the direction of Wildstein and approved by Baroni. The administration said the closures were for a traffic study, but Port Authority officials said they were not aware of the study. Wildstein announced last week that he would resign over the controversy, saying the issue had become a "distraction."

Critics of the governor speculated the lane closures were an act of political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie in his re-election campaign this year.

Christie said Friday the political drama surrounding the issue was "created and manufactured," further characterizing it as "a whole lot of hullabaloo."

The governor said that Wildstein had been talking about doing the traffic study since the fall of 2010, long before Christie's re-election bid. He also said he didn't even know about the closure of the lanes until long after the incident occurred, and stated he doesn't know the mayor of Fort Lee, nor does he remember meeting him.

"I don't have any recollection of ever having met the mayor of Fort Lee in my four years," Christie said. "He was not somebody that was on my radar screen in any way–politically, professionally, or in any other way–until these stories came out in the aftermath of the closing."

With Christie being a possible frontrunner in the 2016 GOP presidential contest, national Democratic groups have made hay out of the controversy, releasing videos and websites slamming the governor over the issue.

The Democratic National Committee, for example, released a nearly two-minute web video Friday morning featuring media reports about the controversy.

But Christie said that's to be expected.

"National Democrats will make an issue about everything about me, so get used to the new world, everybody," he said. "We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy, that's the way it goes."

As the chief executive of the state, Christie conceded that he takes ultimate responsibility for both failures and successes in New Jersey.

"I am ultimately responsible for every person that I put into this government and the actions they take. That's different, obviously, than direct responsibility. But ultimate responsibility? Sure. I understand that," he said.

"When things go well, you get credit sometimes for things that you don't really deserve the compete credit for," he continued. "And when things go poorly, sometimes you get blamed for things that you don't completely deserve blame for. But that's the nature of this job, I got broad shoulders, I'm fine."

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Dana Davidsen and Tim McCaughan contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2016 • Chris Christie • DNC • New Jersey
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Nell

    How petty would you have to be to do something like that (if true)?

    December 13, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Me

    I work for a company in PA that makes stormwater products. We had a job over the summer that called for the closing of a bridge. Apparently some big shot senator used the bridge everyday so they decided to pull some strings and have the project scheduled so it didn't interfere with their commute more than needed. The job was a mess, ultimately it didn't get cost us taxpayers more in the end, all because some politician thought their commute was more important then the multi million dollar project, the people working on it and the taxpayers paying for it. I don't doubt this sort of thing happens all the time all over the country. As usual it is the lowly taxpayer who suffers for it. Politics and corruption go hand in hand.

    December 13, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine


    Really?! Really?! this is the best the libs can should at? Bengazi, Obamacare rollout nightmare, nosediving poll numbers, selfie pics during Mandela's memorial...nothing from the lib-tards about our national disgrace of a president. But some nonsense about closing a lane on the GW bridge, and they jump all over this?!?!?! Wow, pathetics.
    What is pathetic is that after 4 years in office, the only thing that Christie did of note was to play footsie with Obama after Sandy and point out that most Red states are taker states. He has one of the worst job creation rates in the country, and this is the man who is going to lead the GOP out of the wilderness? The problems over the GW lane are not important, except as an indication of how poorly people communicate in whatever level of government they are in, and regardless of party. I guess people are too intimidated by Christie to deliver any bad news to him.

    December 13, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. sadlyperturbed

    @mike in NH

    Please let me know when you get a life. Your rhetoric is old and stale.

    December 13, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Furball

    I love this country. In politics, if you make a mistake (big or small, consequential or not) you get fired (or your lacky does). If this were the case in corporate america (or non-corporate america) people would be getting fired all the time.
    Be honesty with yourselves people – have you made a mistake at your job this past year? Do you think you should be fired for it? Well, this is what we demand of our politicians. No wonder they are so corrupt, they are trying to rake it in before they get kicked out for banality

    December 13, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Steve_MA

    Well, Mr. Christie, you are eventually going to answer all of these questions before the legislature under oath. You see, this stunt endangered the lives of the citizens of Ft. Lee. And it is illegal to utilize the powers of your office for purposes of political payback. This, Sir, is an IMPEACHABLE offense. Do not be surprised when you receive your invitation to your impeachment.

    December 13, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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