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. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Christie threw Baroni under the bus. This is who the GOP wants for President? He isn't all that great a Governor.

    December 13, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. just saying

    this is what a true leader looks like america!!! contrast this with the obamacare rollout disaster. nobody held accountable. benghazi? peopl epromoted, except for the one guy that tried to help, he was demoted.

    December 13, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Feeling the heat coming on Krispy Chris? Your boys are dropping like fly's. We know this leads back to you. "Created & manufactured" my butt. This was orchestrated by people within your administration. I see you used the famous phrase "I don't have any recollection." Often when that phrase is used, it's either because you will incriminate yourself or your lying.

    December 13, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Nothing new to these morale lacking GOP guys, bridge scandal, loots, cheats, wars, Haliburtons, Iran contra affairs, death panels etc. They fit, I doubt that too, for WH kitchen. Yes, Hillary16.

    December 13, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    Christie please keep your style of "doing business" in New Jersey because we don't want or need it in Washington.
    Thank you.

    December 13, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    You think Chris Christie is squeaky clean? gotta be kidding me!

    Follow the money folks....this guy is all talk and blusters but no substance!!!

    December 13, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oops. Looks as if "bridge-gate" made it to the big leagues. For his sake, I hope he handles this better than Tim Pawlenty handled our bridge-gate episode as it played out here in Minnesota.

    December 13, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Duke

    And before he was pretending that it wasn'r a "real problem" and this wan't a big deal....oops!

    December 13, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    He [Gov. Christie] also said he didn't even know about the closure of the lanes until long after the incident occurred, and stated he's never had contact with the mayor of Fort Lee.
    Long after the incidient occurred? Are you kidding me? First of all, it would be more accurate to say incidents, plural. It snarled up traffic for days and weeks. It as a major news story on every television station, except for the PBS stations. You couldn't hear a traffic report without hearing about the traffic snarl ups. Hey, Margo, I think we've got a fibber on the line.

    December 13, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Mel

    OMG Christie is in trouble.

    December 13, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine


    @Tom P- So as long as were doing something, even if has no effect on the problem it is the right thing to do. That is plain stupid. You have no solution because there isn`t one. Your agenda on this matter is purely political.
    It would seem as though you don't believe its worth the effort to save lives. I guess your definition of being a cosnervative is to not give a damn. BTW, its only your perception that the laws are ineffective. Theya re only as good as the will to enforce them, and clearly, the Right has no interest in enforcing existing laws regarding guns. Tell me, how many people need to die the next time out for you change your mind, or is that something you conveniently skip over?

    December 13, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Brian

    I'm a Progressive and I have no issue with this at all. My only question is that 4 years in office and Governor Doughnut has never met nor spoken to the Mayor of Fort Lee? Hmmm.....

    December 13, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. Larry in Houston

    my advice to the right wing – you'd better run Christy – or send reince prebus the "go ahead" to run Christy.....If you don't, it will be like Romney trying to win the POTUS Job....( btw – this is coming from an Independent) IF you guys end up giving cruz the final 'nod' – not only you will be in trouble – but look for a 3rd party to come in this time – probably most likely no matter who the republican nominee is. The so called 3rd party is people – IF you do your "History" people like ross perot / ralph nader / gary Johnson & a host of others . . . .One of these days, the 3rd party candidates are going to be the ones who will be the "tipping point" in an election. For instance, the wrestler in Minnesota ened up being governor, because nobody liked the "other" guy

    December 13, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. doug

    This guy has been a lousy Governor from day one. He's brash and he's emotional. He is a bully. People think this makes for a good President? I don't.

    December 13, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Mark P

    "Another Republican-inspired "Bridge to nowhere"...

    December 13, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    just saying

    this is what a true leader looks like america!!! contrast
    Try this. Do a web search for " Chris Christie new helicopter ", and check out the pictures that come up. You should find several that will give a sneak peek at what Christie would look like stepping on and off Marine One, the POTUS' helicopter.

    One of Christie's first act as governor was to purchase himself a new, state of the art helicopter. He bought a model that looks almost identical to Marine One. BTW, if you see a lot atuff about Christie using the helicopter to attend his kid's soccer games and what not, just ignore it. Okay?

    December 13, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Obamacare = Democrats = EPIC FAIL

    Democrats trying to make some traffic lane closures a big deal??? Talk about the definition of desperation!!
    Democrats, the party of smoke and mirrors marches on....

    December 13, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. GH

    Let me get this straight. The governor of a state "never had any contact" with the mayor of one of the cities in his state because he "wasn't on the radar politically, professionally or in any other way." And the GOP - the "Get Obama Party" - is eyeing this man for the next Presidential race. Well, take a close look, America - the only thing fatter than Christie's body is his head. Or maybe his big mouth. At any rate, we need to ask ourselves if this Roscoe Arbuckle of New Jersey politics is the man we want running our country. MY answer is a resounding NO!

    December 13, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |

    The drip,drip on Christie begins. Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.

    December 13, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Unreal

    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.

    December 13, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. bananaman

    Cut the guy a break. Who could have predicted lane closures would have resulted in traffic delays?

    December 13, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Jay

    Bridgegate? What about selfie-gate? Or dropping poll numbers-gate? Or wait, i can't-tell-the-truth gate? Now those are stories.

    December 13, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Mary

    How many resignations have we seen from the Obama sinking ship over the past several months, over REAL issues?

    December 13, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. ted

    How is it possible Christie has never met the mayor of Ft Lee? Really? I find it hard to believe for such a small state as NJ. Sara Palin is friends with all the eskimos and indigenous folks in AK that are busy watching Putin. HAHAHAHAHA

    December 13, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. mike in NH

    Christie takes action and is accused of throwing Baroni under the bus for some traffic delays, while Obama defends Sebelius who rolled out the ACA website debacle because Sebelius didn't throw Obama under the bus.

    December 13, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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