Christie: Disappointed in 'what happened to me' in bridge scandal

Feb. 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a Chicago audience Tuesday he is disappointed by "what happened to me" in the so-called Bridgegate scandal.

At a luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago, Christie, was asked about the scandal, in which massive traffic jams on Fort Lee, N.J., access roads to the George Washington Bridge are suspected of having been a result of political retribution, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"Large organizations are dynamic and incredibly creative because they're inhabited by human beings," he said.

Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was in Chicago to raise money for the RGA.

"People who work for me made some significant mistakes in judgment," he said. "And when you're the leader of that organization and you're confronted with that, the first thing that happens to you -- what happened to me -- was extraordinary disappointment. Extraordinary disappointment that people that I had trusted had made such bad judgments and had not told the truth."

The RGA said Tuesday it raised a record $6 million in January despite the scandal surrounding its chairman, "with the help of Chairman Christie and all of our Republican governors."

RGA spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement the amount was more than twice the group's fundraising in any previous January, including the last midterm cycle in 2010, Politico reported. She said Christie raised $1.5 million in February from a fundraising swing through Texas.

Top Republicans and GOP candidates in the 2014 election have kept their distance from Christie during his fundraising tour, the Tribune said. Of the four candidates for the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois, only one, Illinois state Sen. Bill Brady, attended Tuesday's event.

Brady said he couldn't "imagine why" the others did not attend, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"They'll have to speak to why they're not here," he said.

Christie, whispered as potential 2016 presidential contender, has been bruised by allegations some of his top aides and allies engineered traffic jams on the busy George Washington Bridge as a retaliatory measure against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie in his re-election bid last year.

The governor has denied a personal role in the alleged plot and said his administration is taking steps to cooperate with multiple inquiries into the matter.

Speaking at a news conference in Chicago Tuesday, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said Christie is either "lying, or he's the most inept, incompetent chief executive imaginable."

"I was the governor of a large state," Strickland said. "I was surrounded by top staff. In my judgment, it is impossible for these kinds of things to have happened in Chris Christie's office without his knowledge or his consent."

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