Although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was supposed to be celebrating his re-election earlier this week with an extravagant inauguration party, attention could not be diverted from the scandals that recently came to light.
In September 2013, a part of the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey was closed by the Christie administration, leading to tremendous traffic in Fort Lee. It has been alleged that Christie did so as a political attack against Mark Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.
Following the start of state and federal investigations, over 20 staff members of the Christie administration have received subpoenas concerning “all aspects of the finances, operations and management of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, including [any] abuse of power.”
In addition to the allegations surrounding “Bridgegate,” as it has now been termed, an audit has been ordered to determine if Christie properly spent the millions of dollars provided to aid relief efforts following the horrid effects that Hurricane Sandy had on New Jersey.
The requests for an audit stem primarily from the media campaign, titled “Stronger than the Storm,” put in place by Christie during the rebuilding of the New Jersey Boardwalk in 2012. Reports by the Asbury Park Press last year detailed that the public relations company that produced the advertising for the campaign, the MWW Group, charged nearly $2 million more than other companies with similar proposals.
The central difference among the companies was that the MMW Group mainly featured the governor and his family in the ads, stirring up criticism from several Democrats.
Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie said, “Federal agency reviews are routine…with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”
Despite this statement, Democratic leaders in the state are making their opposition to Christie’s supposed tactics known. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in an interview on MSNBC that “the Christie administration showed a history of political bullying tactics,” in regard to being reportedly forced to approve a redevelopment deal in exchange for hurricane relief funds for the city. After denying these assertions, the same spokesman had some harsh words aimed at MSNBC and Zimmer.
“MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him,” Reed said. “It’s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political axe to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get their faces on television.”
Although the investigations into “Bridgegate” and the Hurricane Sandy funds will take months to reach any conclusion, it is clear that Christie will be facing severe scrutiny during his current term. That being said, he is still likely to remain one of the top candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, according to MSNBC. Whether the scandal will effect his chances will only be determined within the next few years.
Editor’s Note: Information from MSNBC, the New York Times and Politico was used in this article.