NJ Lawmaker Wants Federal Probe Into Christie Administration

Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 10:53 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak wants a federal investigation into Gov. Chris Christie's administration over allegations that his staff called for traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor who wouldn't support his gubernatorial campaign.

"This crosses a line that is rarely crossed," state Sen. Ray Lesniak, a Democrat, told CNN'S "New Day" on Thursday. "People's lives were in danger. Endangering lives, that's not politics. That's why the U.S. attorneys have to get involved."

In September, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ordered two lanes closed on the nation's busiest bridge for four days, during rush hour traffic, leaving motorists, emergency squads, school buses, and more stuck in traffic heading from the borough of Fort Lee into New York City.

Emails released Wednesday implicated Christie staff and Port Authority officials of orchestrating the closures, which the governor and his administration initially had blamed on a botched traffic survey. Government officials in New Jersey, however, say the lanes were closed to get back at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's refusal to support Christie's re-election efforts.

Christie has a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Trenton, but insists  the behavior "is not representative of me or my administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."

Fort Lee officials said an elderly woman who suffered a heart attack died when paramedics were delayed reaching her, and Lesniak said Thursday her death should be part of the federal investigation.

"There have been serious consequences as a result of these actions. Reckless endangerment of people's lives ... and someone died," he told CNN.

Wednesday afternoon, Lesniak called for a federal grand jury in a message on his Twitter account.

Democratic New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski, who was behind the subpoena for the incriminating emails and other documents, said the emails, which do not contain Christie's name, still call the governor's administration into question and said the governor has a great deal of explaining to do.

"I do not believe the governor called the Port Authority and said, 'Close some lanes,'" said Wisniewski. "But I did say I hold him responsible for the atmosphere. Now finding that that atmosphere existed in his own office is what I find really troubling."

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