Reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's top aides may have had a role in jamming traffic on the nation's busiest bridge in September are adding to growing criticism of the outspoken leader's "bully" reputation.
The embattled governor plans a press conference today to address reports that one of his top aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, sent an email to a Port Authority official, suggesting it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Just a few weeks later, the George Washington Bridge, which connects Fort Lee an New York, experienced massive gridlock because the access lanes had been closed for a traffic study, stranding thousands of commuters in traffic for hours.
New Jersey lawmakers insist Christie is behind the closures because Fort Lee's Democratic Mayor Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich would not join other New Jersey mayors in endorsing Christie for re-election.
Christie was quick to deny a direct connection to the lane closures on Wednesday, but the incident is cementing growing complaints that the straight-talking governor is a bully with his approaches to many issues, reports NBC News.
The governor's often-bombastic statements, while leading him to become a popular politician and the top early potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, are being seen in new light in the wake of the growing scandal, which already has two nicknames: "Bridgegate" and "Bridgehazi."
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Christie was quick to issue a statement on Wednesday, calling the behavior "unacceptable" and saying he "will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better." Further, he said the behavior is "not representative of my or my administration in any any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."
But the governor has sparred often with people who don't agree with his policies, mocking reporters, arguing with school teachers, and even yelling at a man on a Jersey Shore boardwalk in a clip aired on TMZ.com in 2012.
The revelations could also harm Christie's bipartisan appeal, reports NBC News. He's still under fire from conservatives for embracing President Barack Obama just after Superstorm Sandy hit days before the 2012 presidential election. Meanwhile, Democrats who embrace his "everyman" style could turn against him because of the allegations he used his governor's seat to bully a Democratic mayor who wouldn't support him.
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