New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey resigned Friday over a mushrooming scandal involving charges that Christie masterminded a massive traffic jam for political payback.
Bill Baroni, the bi-state agency's deputy executive director, stepped down in the furor over several access lanes being shut to the George Washington Bridge in September, resulting in a traffic nightmare that lasted three days.
Baroni's move follows the resignation last week of Christie's high-school pal David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who actually ordered the lane closures.
Democrats have charged that the lane closures in Fort Lee, N.J., were ordered to punish that city's mayor for refusing to back Christie's gubernatorial re-election campaign. The Port Authority claimed it was simply carrying out a traffic study.
The controversy is escalating as polls show the Republican governor is in a statistical dead heat with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential race.
A recent Quinnipiac poll says Christie holds a 42 percent to 41 percent advantage. Christie has laughed off the controversy in his typical blustery fashion, insisting Democrats are merely playing politics.
Asked about the closures Monday, Christie quipped, "I moved the cones, actually unbeknownst to everybody."
But Christie is definitely not laughing behind the scenes.
The Wall Street Journal reported
Thursday that Christie phoned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to complain about a Cuomo appointee's handling of the flap.
The newspaper says Christie complained that Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, was "pressing too hard" to get to the bottom of the issue.
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