January 11, 2014

The long List of past Chris Christie Scandals

January 11, 2014. Fort Lee, NJ. In a contemptuous press conference to address the bridge closing scandal, NJ Governor Chris Christie denied any knowledge or involvement. But as the media meticulously pours through thousands of his staff’s emails, it looks more and more as if that may not be true. This isn’t the first time the boisterous GOP Presidential hopeful has attacked his political rivals, their families and their constituents.

Does the NJ Bridge Scandal end Chris Christie's bid for President? Image courtesy of Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Governor Chris Christie is known as a tough politician who doesn’t hesitate to target his political rivals on both a professional level and personal level. He’s long been known as an arrogant bully. But Christie comes from a Governor’s office where his predecessor, former Gov. Jon Corzine, stands accused of bankrupting MF Global and stealing billions of dollars from customer accounts. To many, delaying emergency vehicles and stranding little kids pales in comparison.



Previous Chris Christie scandals

With Chris Christie being the apparent front-runner in the race for the 2016 Republican Party Presidential nomination, the George Washington Bridge scandal may prove to be the undoing of his national aspirations. And with years of political victims laying in his wake, there’s no shortage of New Jersey Democrats, or Republicans for that matter, coming forward to show the nation who the real Chris Christie is.

Explaining the political intimidation tactics his office used against New Jersey elected officials, Governor Christie swore on Thursday that the bridge closing was, “the exception, not the rule of what’s happened over the last four years in the administration.” But his critics say otherwise. One of those is Think Progress who waited only hours before publishing some of Christie’s recent scandals.

One of those instances targeted former Democratic Governor Richard Codey. After disagreeing with the newly-elected Governor Christie in public, Christie used the next 24 hours to take away Codey’s State Trooper bodyguard detail, fire Codey’s cousin from the Port Authority, and fire Codey’s former aid from his job at the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs – all on the day following Codey’s disagreeable remarks about Governor Christie.

State Senator and fellow Republican Sean Kean made the mistake of publicly stating that the Governor waited too long during the blizzard of 2010 to declare a state of emergency shortly after Christie took office. Governor Christie responded by holding a press conference in State Senator Kean’s District, but banning him from attending. Christie aids told the press at the time that Kean “got what he deserved.”

When Christie and his New Jersey Republicans attempted to gerrymander the state’s redistricting map after the 2010 census, Democrats presented a competing map many considered more fare. One of those was Rutgers University Professor Alan Rosenthal. Immediately after publicly endorsing the Democrats’ map, Rosenthal had his state funding slashed.

Last year, State Senator and fellow Republican Christopher “Kip” Bateman sponsored a candidate for a judicial appointment. But right after Bateman voted against a Christie-supported Bill, the State Senator’s judicial appointment was stopped.

More Chris Christie scandals

As if that weren’t enough, Slate also published a brief list of scandals surrounding the New Jersey Governor. The first and most timely is Christie’s previous denials that he never knew Port Authority executive and Christie appointee David Wildstein. He’s the man at the center of the bridge closing investigation and a high school classmate of the Governor.

Wildstein took the Fifth Amendment at this week’s hearings into the bridge scandal when questioned by the Transportation Committee. Christie swears they were a year apart and, “didn’t travel in the same circles.” But their high school baseball coach was tracked down by the press and insists the two were on the same team. Recently released emails from the Governor’s staff show exactly how and when the bridge closure happened. One email is from Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly to David Wildstein at the Port Authority. The email from the Governor’s office simply read, ‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.’ Wildstein’s only reply, ‘Got it.’


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The publication also cites former Governor Richard Codey’s wife, who was apparently stripped of state funding for a research project on postpartum depression that she was employed by. Once again, the cancellation of funding occurred immediately after Codey publicly disagreed with Governor Christie.

And a couple more scandals

Another publication that was quick to remind readers of past Chris Christie scandals was Politico. They recall how Christie single-handedly cancelled the ARC train expansion that would have doubled rail capacity between New Jersey and Manhattan, relieving the massive congestion and bottlenecks like the George Washington Bridge at the center of the most recent controversy. Christie blamed the move on cost overruns. But supporters of the multi-state project say it’s simply not true. The project would have created 45,000 permanent jobs.

Going back to Christie’s days as an Energy corporation lobbyist, he broke into politics by connecting companies like Enron and Exxon with Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush, becoming one of the future President’s biggest fundraisers. In appreciation, Bush appointed Chris Christie to the post of US Attorney from New Jersey. With little experience, critics slammed the appointment saying it was a political favor orchestrated by Karl Rove.

As detailed by Politico, it didn’t take long after that for Christie to immerse himself in scandal. As the head of the New Jersey US Attorney’s Office, he loaned one of his top staffers $46,000. Michele Brown was the recipient of the money and when Christie launched his candidacy for Governor, Brown pushed hard to close and convict as many open cases as the US Attorney’s office could. Her efforts helped pad Christie’s record at 130 convictions to 0 acquittals. That statistic looked mighty good on the campaign trail and is credited with helping him get elected. Brown now serves as a department head in Christie’s administration, but both swear the loan, actions and new job had nothing to do with each other.

The report goes on to describe how Governor Christie awarded a $150 million no-bid contract to a Florida corporation that just happened to make a $50,000 donation to the Republican Governors Association, chaired at the time by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Another controversy revolves around the Christie administration mysteriously halting a criminal investigation into a County Sheriff’s department that was giving genuine police badges to a wealthy Chris Christie campaign donor.

Another example from Chris Christie’s history of scandal goes all the way back to 2002, shortly after being appointed US Attorney. One of Christie’s 13 traffic tickets and 6 car accidents involved him going the wrong way down a one-way street and hitting a motorcyclist. Despite breaking the law, driving recklessly and injuring another motorist, Christie magically wasn’t charged with a crime or so much as issued a traffic ticket.


 


 

More recently, Christie was blasted for using a $12.5 million state police helicopter for personal and political use. In one instance, he used the helicopter to make a glorious entrance at his son’s baseball game by landing it on the field. The same day, he used the taxpayer-funded police helicopter to take him to a dinner being hosted by a number of wealthy Iowa Republican campaign contributors in preparation for the nation’s first election of the 2016 Presidential race.

And the list goes on

Not finished there, critics of Chris Christie point to his policy of privatizing much of the state’s minimum-security prisons. The private prison corporation receiving the most taxpayer money just happens to be headed by the Governor’s friend and political advisor. In Christie’s first 29 months in office as Governor, over 1,000 prisoners escaped due to outsourcing and budget cuts. Putting a face on the scandal, one of those escapees went on to murder a young woman.

When Christie was accused in 2010 of moving too slow in declaring a state of emergency after a blizzard that buried the state, the Governor was criticized for abandoning his residents. Instead, Christie and his family were enjoying a vacation at Disney World in Florida as the crisis went on. His Lt. Governor could have taken charge, but she was vacationing at the same time, in sunny Mexico.

One of the more outrageous accusations made against Governor Christie is that he single-handedly hijacked $60 million in taxpayer-funded Hurricane Sandy relief money and used it for his re-election campaign. As Christie campaigned in 2013, New Jersey residents were bombarded with a never-ending string of Chris Christie campaign ads on their TV’s. The ads featured Governor Christie and his family as the face of New Jersey. Except, they weren’t campaign ads. They were allegedly ‘tourism ads’ paid for by Hurricane Sandy Relief money.

The above is quite an impressive list of scandals for a Governor who hasn’t been in office all that long. And if the past 48 hours worth of bridge scandal discoveries is any indication, Chris Christie’s ever-growing list of scandals will continue to grow. The big question – is it enough to doom his aspirations for President?

 

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