Politics

Democrats Question the Bridge Scandal Report That Clears Christie

March 28, 2014

It ran hundreds of pages, and found the governor did absolutely nothing wrong, nor did anyone on his current staff.

It cost a reported $1 million in taxpayer dollars — likely much, much more, but no one is saying just how much yet.

And it blamed the entire fiasco on two people who were never interviewed.

A report commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie to look into the scandals that have engulfed his administration was released yesterday — after portions of it were leaked earlier in the week — completely exonerating the governor and drawing immediate criticism from Democrats and others who called it a whitewash.

Former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro, whose New York law firm was retained by the governor’s office, defended the report’s conclusions in the still unexplained shutdown of several local toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge last year, in what is believed to have been an act of political retribution.

"It’s a search for the truth and we believe we have gotten to the truth," he said following the release of the report. "What we found was Gov. Christie had no involvement in the decision to close these lanes, and no prior knowledge of it."

Instead, Mastro placed the blame for the shutdown squarely on Bridget Kelly, a former senior aide in the governor’s office, acting with David Wildstein, a high-level patronage appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the Hudson River crossing.

At the same time, he labeled separate allegations raised by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that the administration withheld Hurricane Sandy money to help a private developer as "unsubstantiated, demonstrably false and unbelievable."

But while clearing Christie and much of his staff, the report urged the appointment of a chief ethics officer within the governor’s office. It also called for a restructuring of the Port Authority to restore its autonomy.

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