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. John

    is he loosing weight?

    December 13, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    There is something wrong with an elected official who tries to belittle & make cruel jokes every time someone dares question their actions. W./Cheney displayed this characteristic leading up to the Liberation of Iraq.

    December 13, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Charlie Harvell

    Seems he forgot that there was NO "study'. Just some political payback. This will be a big deal if he runs for prez. Political malfeasance.

    December 13, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. just saying

    I knew he was no good, he is just like Obama, designating blame away from himself, even lies when he doesn't have too, most corrupt governer ever. His claim to fame is failed policies, education, infrastructure, you name it, he's cut it. He wants you to believe that a low wage teacher off the street is better for your child than a trained union teacher, complete BS

    December 13, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. dzerres

    "broad shoulders"? Not really. Broad ass – absolutely! Does NJ have laws that allow for a recall?

    December 13, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. timverba

    The lingering problem is that nobody can find the study. Does anybody have the study?

    December 13, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Janet

    Yep, just a "whole lot of hullabaloo" except for the people who were stuck in bumper to bumber grid lock for those days and did we mention that it was the first few days of school? Christie – gotta love him! He calls a war vet an idiot in public for having the nerve to disagreei with him at a town meeting. Of course we're not in Kansas, Christie, – the traffic moves in Kansas!

    December 13, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. CryBabies

    "Mistakes are made and when mistakes are made, people have to be held accountable for them." Action and words, not just words. Perhaps this idea should be put into the suggestion box at the WH.

    December 13, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Juergen

    I believe Christie.

    December 13, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    Obama is serving his 2nd term as the first black get used to to spewing ur hate @ him for the next 3 more yrs!
    But let's see if this BIG DONUT hole on our New Jersey Bridges to No Where is gonna get even a 1 term @ the presidency!!!

    Marinate on that gop tea potty!!!

    December 13, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC


    The lingering problem is that nobody can find the study. Does anybody have the study?
    Uh. The hog ate it?

    December 13, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. ralph

    This fat arrogant moron does more to reinforce bad NJ stereotypes than the entire cast of Jersey Shore combined.

    December 13, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Gwen

    This is not about Obama you stupid Obamahaters.

    December 13, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. MaryM

    This little problem is nothing. Wait till Christie starts running for President. ALL those skeletons will fly out of the closet onto the TV screens

    December 13, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Gwen

    Mary this is not about Obama so stay on the topic.

    December 13, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. edpeters101

    "Christie said Baroni accepted responsibility for not following the right protocols in approving the traffic study".. There is a big problem here: There was no traffic study to begin with! Christie is just using another stunt to avoid being tied into this (after he tried to get the Gov. of NY to stop the investigation, which didn't work)!

    December 13, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Rock Reynolds

    Christie wants to know who's "responsible" for running his state?????

    December 13, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. just saying

    Disrespectful to our vets is a sign of s weak leader, we don't need another of those people, see him for what he is, a liar and a cheat, how would he act if he had the power of the presidency?

    December 13, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    This pretty much proves that Christie isn't "tough" – he's just another immature, vindictive repub.

    December 13, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Boo

    Hey Chris Christie....have another donut and keep quiet.

    December 13, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein

    Corrupt and incompentant people are everywhere. Baroni should have done the job correctly. I am guessing that there is no paper trail to link Baroni getting orders from Christie or his staff to order the shut down.

    I don't know how people have heard about the rejection rates for Sandy recovery money being higher for minorities than for whites. It really makes me wonder if the election would have been closer had this come out.

    December 13, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. sonny chapman

    Beware of "leaders" who make snarkey remarks when being questioned about their actions re: major stuff. P.S.-THE Birth Certificate & Vince Foster are not Major Stuff.

    December 13, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    So according to Christie, if your child does something wrong, you should encourage them to respond to legitimate questions about the incident with snarky, smart-alec remarks and then put down the questioner. At all costs, avoid taking responsibility for your actions.

    Love those "family values" repubs – NOT!

    December 13, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Is this an old photo? According to a recent article in "Time" magazine: Patients who undergo gastric-band ("lap band") like Christie did can lose between a third to half of their body weight. But about 10% of patients lose nothing at all (according to Dr. Philip Schauer, a bariatric surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic; he was not involved in Christie’s care).

    Christie's lost a little weight, but not much.

    The reason I bring this up is because the last thing our country needs in the White House is another addict: GW was a dry alcoholic and Christie is addicted to food.

    These folks tend to think in absolutes, don't have much self-control and can be manipulated.

    Let's not go down that road again, folks!

    December 13, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. Tom

    There is no such thing as a legitimate "traffic study" that closes lanes. Close lanes for sinkhole repair or if a bridge is washed out. Don't close lanes just to see what happens, that is absurd.

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