Report: Fort Lee mayor says Christie appointees may have courted him
February 7th, 2014
08:53 PM ET
8 years ago

Report: Fort Lee mayor says Christie appointees may have courted him

(CNN) - Snow plows, pot hole repairs, shuttle buses and emergency radios - all provided to the town of Fort Lee over time in what the mayor now believes may have been an attempt by Christie appointees to win his endorsement for the New Jersey governor's reelection.

And when the backing didn't materialize last year, Mark Sokolich believes key state officials may have in response orchestrated traffic jams over several days in his community by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

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Sokolich's recollection of the public works equipment and services extended by Garden State officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was reported on Friday by the Bergen Record, which interviewed the mayor.

He did not offer any details when asked about the report by CNN late on Friday.

The story is the latest twist in a political scandal that has roiled Christie's administration and clouded his potential presidential candidacy in 2016.

Documents around the time of the traffic gridlock last September and made public last month show that Sokolich, a Democrat, wondered about possible political retribution for not backing Christie, a Republican.

But the Record report is the first suggestion there may have been an dedicated effort way ahead of time by Christie officials to convince him to back their boss.

Sokolich did not confirm any details to CNN when asked why this is all coming out now, weeks after the bridge scandal broke wide open with the release of explosive e-mails between Christie appointees.

He has spoken in interviews about it and never drew any parallels between the Port Authority assistance and politics.

Sokolich told CNN late Friday that this was said to the Record in retrospect and "upon reflection." He declined further comment.

Christie has said multiple times in recent weeks that he was unaware of the traffic mess in Fort Lee until after it occurred and had no knowledge of any suggested political payback against Sokolich.

On the latest development, Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said on Friday in a statement "the mayor's comments today are a total departure and direct contradiction of the version of events he has told up to today."

In another report by Bloomberg News, Sokolich recalled a lunch he had with Christie and another mayor at the governor's mansion about taxes and spending in the years before the traffic scandal, and subsequently was invited to a couple of parties and other "encounters" with him and others.

Christie said at a January news conference that Sokolich was "never on his radar screen" and said he probably met him at some point but couldn't recall exactly when or where.

He also said the Fort Lee mayor was never "mentioned to me as somebody who's endorsement we were even pursuing."

In another detail, the other official at the lunch with Sokolich and Christie, according to the Bloomberg report: Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has recently accused Christie administration higher ups of conditioning Superstorm Sandy aid for her community on her support for a redevelopment project backed by Christie.

Christie officials vigorously deny that claim.

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Simplefaith

    The truth will come out sooner or later, but it will be revealed.

    February 7, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Why was Hoboken held hostage by Christie ?

    Because he could !

    February 7, 2014 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  3. rla

    Wonderful– The democrats are now convicting people on speculation and orchastrated inuendo.... They are real low lives any more! and have no credability.... Let the process play out !!

    February 8, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    There's nothing at work here, in these accusations, but political attacks. That's the simple answer.

    February 8, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  5. wendel

    funny how the same tactics the repos always accuse the democrats of are the ones they continue to use. You would think they where a bunch of thugs. It seems that the unions are run by really smart people and the republican party is run by liars and thugs. intimidation and payoffs seem to be the way they operate now. All these years of accusing the democrats of these tactics are catching up with them. Rich people are not willing to turn loose of any money for the benefit of the average American. Stop voting for these clowns

    February 8, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |