'Bridge-gate' Mayor to Attend State of the Union

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Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 06:29 AM

By Cathy Burke

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The Democratic mayor at the center of the bridge-gate scandal that ensnared Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been invited to Tuesday's State of the Union Speech.

The Bergen Record reported Monday  that Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich will be the guest of New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell for the president's address in the House chamber.

"He did exhibit a standup attitude [on the bridge issue] which I've grown to like and I can't say I kept that out of my mind because that's not the truth, but it's not the reason he was selected," Pascrell said, adding he wanted to bring along someone from Bergen County since last year's guest was from Paterson.

Sokolich was tossed into the center of the bridge-gate scandal when emails showed Christie's fired deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, may have collaborated with ex-Port Authority official and longtime friend of Christie, David Wildstein, to shut down traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge for several days. The move appeared to be political payback as the mayor had not endorsed Christie's reelection bid.
 
Enormous traffic jams were triggered after all but one commuter lane was closed for four days on the George Washington Bridge leading to New York City in September.

The Record quoted Sokolich saying after he was unable to get the Port Authority to explain why two of the three access lanes were closed and that he wondered “if there’s something I did wrong. Am I being sent some sort of message?”

Christie apologized personally to Sokolich and fired the aides.

But other Democratic allegations about the Christie administration strong-arm tactics have surfaced, including Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's claim that Christie withheld recovery funds for Superstorm Sandy for political reasons.

State legislators voted Monday to merge parallel investigations into the scandal.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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