One of the top Democrats in New Jersey told TPM on Monday that it’s “absolutely” possible a billion-dollar redevelopment project is at the root of the scandal that has consumed Gov. Chris Christie (R) in recent days.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) said she hasn’t dismissed the idea that the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September was retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., where traffic was gridlocked for days, for not endorsing Christie. However, she said she was open to a theory about the redevelopment project that was first offered by MSNBC host Steve Kornacki and former political reporter Brian Murphy on Sunday.
“Would these developments play a role in this and be sort of a typical Jersey political story? Absolutely,” Weinberg said. “It could have been to show this developer: ‘You want a piece of the action? I want — I’m making something up here — I want to be the traffic consultant, I want to be the attorney who rents out the property,’ or, you know, whatever.”
Christie has repeatedly denied he played a role in the decision to shut the lanes. Some Democrats, including Weinberg, have suggested Christie’s allies at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, ordered the lanes shut to exact revenge on Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for declining to endorse the governor’s re-election bid.
Weinberg said she still thinks it’s possible retribution against Sokolich was the main motivation for the lane closures. But she said it would be impossible to know the motivation for the closures until investigators determine who ordered the lanes to be shut.
“There’s so much speculation here because … there is a big missing link,” Weinberg said.