March 19, 2019 | 41° F

Sandy aid, Bridgegate scandals mire Christie

The past year saw a turn of events that proved a critical part of Gov. Chris Christie’s career.

The saga began in August, when traffic on the George Washington Bridge was halted for hours, seemingly for no particular reason. Later, New Jersey residents heard the move was planned in retaliation for the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie for election.

But the scandal hit its high point in January, when an investigation uncovered emails and phone messages hinting that Christie’s top aides David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly were integral in ordering the closure.

In a press conference, Christie denied any knowledge of his aides’ actions. Wildstein resigned in December over the allegations, but Christie took the additional step of firing Kelly.

His actions did not absolve him of blame in the eyes of many New Jersey residents. Christie’s approval ratings dipped from 65 percent to nearly 50 percent by mid-February, according to Politico.

The governor, once considered a frontrunner for the 2016 presidential race, quickly fell out of the spotlight, according to a Business Insider report. By February, just 32 percent of Republican voters supported a Christie campaign.

Soon after, he was also implicated in mishandling Hurricane Sandy aid. One report found the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency gave $4.8 million to construction of an apartment building in New Brunswick, which was one of the least affected towns after the storm.

Another found that his administration allegedly tried to bargain with Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer, withholding Sandy funds until she agreed to his redevelopment plan.

Meanwhile, the investigative report into Bridgegate absolved Christie of blame, but not without some questions. Many said the report was biased since Christie’s administration ordered and had a hand in it.

In April, Port Authority commissioner Anthony Sartor resigned over the scandal.

Erin Petenko

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