NJ Star-Ledger: Christie 'Unfit' to be President

Image: NJ Star-Ledger: Christie 'Unfit' to be President

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 03:54 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The Star-Ledger on Wednesday said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not fit for office regardless of his role in the burgeoning Bridge-gate scandal.

"His attempts to laugh this off now appear to be dishonest, though we can't yet be sure that he personally knew about the correspondence of one of his top aides," the Newark-based newspaper said in an editorial. "Still, Christie bears responsibility either way.

"If it turns out he did know, he is obviously lying and unfit for office — let alone a 2016 presidential run," the editorial continued. "And even if he did not, his officials are liars.

"If Christie can't control them, how can we trust him as a potential future leader of our country?"

The Republican governor, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, has denied reports that he had worked to badly tie up a New Jersey town's commuter traffic to pay back its mayor for not supporting him.

The plan affected Fort Lee, whose mayor, Mark Sokolich, did not endorse Christie's re-election bid.

However, emails and text messages released on Wednesday showed one of Christie's top aides suggesting that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" about a month before lanes were closed on the George Washington Bridge, heavily snarling commuter traffic heading into New York City.

The documents were among a trove of data released to a New Jersey Assembly committee examining the closure of the bridge in September.

Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff for Christie, sent the email on Aug. 13 to David Wildstein, the former director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

In one exchange of text messages about school buses caught in traffic, a recipient of a Wildstein text said: "Is it wrong that I'm smiling?"

"No," Wildstein replied.

"I feel badly about the kids," the person replied.

Wildstein replied: "They are the children of Buono voters."

Democrat Barbara Buono opposed Christie in his November re-election bid, which he handily won for his second term. On Wednesday, Buono told The Daily Beast that the emails and texts show Christie's continued abuse of power.

"This is a guy who runs a paramilitary operation," Buono said. "His people don't sneeze without checking with him first. But I think what really was the most damning [revelation] was the cavalier attitude that these folks had about subjecting children and the public to public safety hazards. These are terrible people, and the ringleader is Chris Christie."

Christie's administration has not commented on the emails and text messages, though the governor has "denied that he, nor anyone tied to his staff and campaign" had known about the lane closures, The Star-Ledger editorial said.

The bridge was closed Sept. 9-13, when commuters found themselves stuck in traffic after lanes were closed without any prior notice.

Three of the 12 eastbound toll booths heading into New York from New Jersey on the bridge had been set aside for years for morning rush-hour traffic. But during a traffic study on those days in September, the three lanes were cut to one, and the other two lanes were dedicated to regular traffic.

"What to believe?" the editorial asked. "Was Christie lying? Was he misled by his own staff? Who knew what, and when?"

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