Investigations into Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal, the politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge last year, have yielded some decidedly bad news for the New Jersey governor: Another Christie bridge scandal at a completely different bridge.
In this new chapter of the Christie saga, investigators are pointing to securities-law violations in a $1.8 billion road-repair agreement from 2011, according to reporting in The New York Times. This time the inquiries are centered around the Pulaski Skyway, the dilapidated roadway connecting Newark to Jersey City. The Christie administration sought to repair the crumbling thoroughfare by diverting Port Authority funds from a new Hudson River rail tunnel canceled by Christie in the fall of 2010.
Port Authority lawyers warned the Christie administration that the Pulaski Skyway, which is owned and operated by the state, falls outside of the agency’s purview. Christie’s team justified the spending by calling the road an access way to the Lincoln Tunnel (something that does fall under agency purview), although the two aren’t connected. Soon after, Port Authority lawyers changed their tune, altering a memo to say the agency did in fact have authority over the project. “We are now saying we have legislative authority,” the revised document read, according to The Times.
The scandal du jour isn’t nearly as politically damaging as the scandal last fall. The motivations appear to be significantly less transparent than they were for Bridgegate (there is no retribution against politicians who allegedly didn’t go along with a Christie endorsement). Yet the whole thing smacks of a familiar abuse of authority by the Christie administration, and that’s a place where the political damage has already been done.
According to National Journal‘s Political Insiders Poll, just 2 percent of Democratic respondents predict Christie, once a favorite to win the nomination, will be the Republican pick for president in 2016. The long list of names ahead of him includes Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker. Republicans, meanwhile, have been a bit more loathe to cast his 2016 chances as dead. The poll shows 11 percent of Republican respondents predicted he’d win the nomination, putting him in third place behind Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
One Republican insider imagined Christie’s comeback as follows: “Christie emerges from the overhyped bridge-closing issue and shows Republicans what a full-spectrum conservative can accomplish when pragmatism and moving the ball forward triumphs over litmus tests that keep us from even breaking the huddle.” Anything’s possible, but the tea leaves are looking increasingly hostile to that interpretation.
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Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."
Today in bad news for Donald Trump:
- Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
- The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.