A review ordered by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie puts much of the blame for the "Bridgegate" scandal on a top aide.
A report released Thursday by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a leading New York law firm, cleared the governor of advance knowledge of the lane closings in Fort Lee, at the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge. But it found that David Wildstein, Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said he told the governor about them while they were in progress, a conversation Christie has said he does not remember.
Wildstein and Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who have both lost their jobs, get much of the blame in the report. The lane closings, allegedly ordered as political payback to Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, snarled traffic for four days in September. At the time, officials said they were part of a traffic study.
The report quotes Kelly as telling an aide "get rid of that" -- an email in which she said she was happy Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was upset. The aide kept a copy.
The scandal is also being investigated by a legislative committee and by J. Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
Christie, who pre-scandal was considered a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is also under fire for the state's response to Hurricane Sandy, including a post-storm commercial featuring his family, and an alleged threat to withhold Sandy aid from Hoboken unless Mayor Dawn Zimmer expedited a development project.
Randy Mastro, who headed the Gibson Dunn investigation, said about a dozen lawyers were involved and had complete access to internal documents. The review is expected to cost the state at least $1 million.
[New York Times]