Assemblyman: Records Refute Christie’s ‘False’ Claim About Traffic Jam Scandal

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Another one of Chris Christie’s explanations for the growing scandal over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J., in September is being questioned by other local officials. 

In a press conference last Thursday, Christie claimed Fort Lee officials gave “no notification” about the traffic jams to Pat Foye, the executive director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge. Assemblyman John Wisnieswki (D), who is chairman of New Jersey Assembly Transportation Committee, which is investigating the incident, told TPM Monday that Christie’s claim was “false.”

“The governor’s claim that Fort Lee did not try to contact them is false and the records reflect that,” said Wisnieswki, who has been examining correspondence subpoenaed from multiple Port Authority officials.

Some Democrats have alleged the lanes were closed because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid

One record that seems to call Christie’s claim into question is a letter published by the Wall Street Journal in October. In that letter, which was dated Sept. 12, while the lane closures were still in effect, Sokolich alerts one og Christie’s top appointees at Port Authority, Bill Baroni, to the traffic issues. In addition to contacting Baroni, Sokolich also wrote that Fort Lee officials had made “multiple inquiries” to Port Authority.

“I have incessantly attempted to contact Port Authority representatives to no avail,” Sokolich wrote in the letter. 

On Friday, Sokolich told the Bergen Record newspaper that local officials “incessantly called” and tried to reach “at least five or six” people at the Port Authority to raise concerns about the traffic.

Sokolich declined to comment on the issue when TPM reached him on Monday. Christie’s office has not responded to a request for comment on the discrepancies between the governor’s statements and Sokolich’s. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com
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