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Official Claims He Told Gov. Christie of GWB Lane Closings, Report Finds

Report concludes that the Gov. Christie likely was not involved in the George Washington Bridge lane closures, but calls for a restructuring of the Port Authority.

Gov. Chris Christie walks to the Fort Lee Municipal Building for a meeting with Mayor Mark Sokolich on Jan. 9. / Photo: Jim Leggate.
Gov. Chris Christie walks to the Fort Lee Municipal Building for a meeting with Mayor Mark Sokolich on Jan. 9. / Photo: Jim Leggate.

A Port Authority official with knowledge of the George Washington Bridge lane closure last year told Gov. Chris Christie about it at a 9/11 memorial, according to an internal report released Thursday.

The governor, however, said he had no knowledge of any such exchange, and the report’s authors found no evidence that Christie was involved in the closure.

The report by the corporate law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher pinned much of the blame for the ‘Bridgegate’ scandal on the governor’s former chief of staff, Bridget Ann Kelly.

Kelly was fired by the governor in January.

The firm’s findings were marred by several hurdles faced by investigators.

Kelly, former aide and campaign manager Bill Stepien, and Christie's Port Authority appointee David Wildstein all refused to speak with attorneys. Gibson Dunn has worked for the Christie administration in the past and the governor is close to Debra Wong Yang, a top partner there.

The firm’s relationship with Christie has cast a shade of skepticism over the impartiality of the report for some political observers.

The report also concludes that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should be restructured in order to promote "transparency and accountability." While suggesting that changes be made via the state legislature and a bi-state commission, the authors do not push any concrete suggestions for such changes.

In a joint statement Thursday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said the Gibson Dunn report would not be the final word on the Bridgegate scandal.

“The people of New Jersey need a full accounting of what happened. This review has deficiencies that raise questions about a lack of objectivity and thoroughness,” their statement read. “We will continue to pursue our investigation wherever the facts lead. We want a full accounting of the lane closings and any related abuses of power and what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The law firm capped its report with the following recommendations for Christie’s office and the Port Authority:

The Office Of The Governor:

• Restrict The Use Of Personal Email Accounts For Official State Business: Employees within the Governor’s Office should no longer be allowed to use personal email accounts to conduct state business absent extraordinary circumstances.

• Eliminate The Office Of Intergovernmental Affairs: In light of the aberrational behavior that occurred here and to eliminate any misconceptions going forward, IGA should be disbanded and its functions reorganized within a new and expanded Governor’s Office of Constituent and Legislative Services.

• Institute An Ombudsperson Within The Governor’s Office: A senior statesperson “of unquestioned integrity and independence,” should be appointed ombudsperson within the Governor’s office who reports directly to the Governor. The role would be to serve as a sounding board for complaints and ensuring that appropriate response to issues.

• Appoint A Chief Ethics Officer: To ensure what happened here will not be repeated moving forward, the Governor should appoint a Chief Ethics Officer. This newly created position will be dedicated to addressing ethics issues and conflicts as they arise while overseeing training to ensure Governor’s office staff are aware of their obligations.

The Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey:

• Appoint Bi-State Commission To Review Restructuring The Port Authority: In conjunction with New York, New Jersey should move to form a bi-state commission to formulate a reorganization of the Port Authority. As a priority, the commission should consider a potential fundamental restructuring of the PA’s organization and the appointment process for PA commissioners and senior executives.

• Propose Legislative Reforms To Promote Transparency: The Governor’s office should work with legislative leaders and their New York counterparts to craft new or modified reform proposals to bring enhanced transparency and accountability to across the region’s public authorities.

You can read the full report, cover letter, supporting documents and appendices here.

Terry Moore March 28, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Dear Ken, See Terry Moore, March 28th @ 4:49 p.m. It's NOT just about lane closures as Watergate was not just about one burglary.
Chuck Ruff March 28, 2014 at 06:21 PM
Must be difficult being a republican today. Much energy is devoted to bashing the media and liberals for keeping Bridegate alive (which came to light just a couple months ago), and then feverishly trying to keep Benghazi alive, even though it occurred a year and a half ago.
FIMF the ll March 28, 2014 at 06:23 PM
What difference does it make?
Sean Conneamhe March 29, 2014 at 08:09 AM
"Nixon 1974, Christie 2014..."
ARCH STANTON March 30, 2014 at 11:42 AM
HEY CHRISTIE, TAKE A LIE DETECTOR TEST.

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