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Monday, July 16, 2018

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) no longer cares about making sense.

He hit the absurdist stage of what seems to be his Nixonian demise on Friday evening, after a letter from the lawyer for former associate David Wildstein said the governor knew about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as they were happening became public.

Christie’s office issued a statement that said the letter confirmed what the governor had previously said — though he clearly had insisted that he wasn’t aware of the “traffic study” until “after the whole thing was over.” The governor then attended Howard Stern’s birthday party, where he was cheered, and a Super Bowl ceremony in Times Square, where he was booed.

Those public appearances were followed by an email to Politico in which Christie’s office went after David Wildstein, noting “risible juvenilia” — including the former blogger being “publicly accused by his high-school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior.” It went on to describe Christie’s long-time associate as a “contentious” “political animal” who “frightened people.”

You may wonder, then, why the governor hired Wildstein to be his “eyes, ears” inside the Port Authority, as one of the linked articles in the email notes — except that being a “contentious” “political animal” who “frightened people” is kind of how Chris Christie became a frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Remember: Wildstein is a guy Christie referred to as “a tireless advocate for New Jersey’s interests at the Port Authority” — less than seven weeks ago.

Christie must crush his former associate now because his political future depends on maintaining the stance that he had “no involvement, knowledge or understanding of the real motives behind David Wildstein’s scheme to close the lanes on the George Washington Bridge,” at least until emails damning his staff were released on January 10. Obviously the governor assumes his ex-pal may testify otherwise.

But the bridge scandal also cracked a veil of fear that seems to have cloaked an effort by the governor’s office to use aid awarded by Congress for Superstorm Sandy relief as a political piggy bank to help his re-election.

Accusations by Mayor Dawn Zimmer (D-Hoboken) found relief for her city, which was reportedly 80 percent underwater during the storm, held hostage because she resisted developments favored by the governor’s office seem substantiated by new emails. Meanwhile in New Brunswick, a town that suffered little damage but did have a Democratic mayor who endorsed Christie, funds went to build an apartment tower.

“Furthermore, relief funds have been extremely hard to account for because Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a single website to track Sandy funding and contract information,” wrote Brian Murphy, a former intimate of all the key players in the Bridgegate scandal.

Great need went unmet as the relief effort literally became a commercial for the governor’s re-election. This is the scandal that should concern us most.