The renowned law firm hired by Chris Christie and the Office of the Governor to investigate last year’s George Washington Bridge Scandal has released its report. Today, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP announced its findings that Chris Christie was innocent of any accusations of wrongdoing in both the Bridgegate scandal and the withholding of Hurricane Sandy relief money from the mayor of Hoboken.
However, New Jersey Democrats raise doubts about the investigators who were, “hired by and paid for the Christie administration.” In a statement released by the New Jersey Legislative Democrats, Christie opponents say:
The people of New Jersey need a full accounting of what happened. This review has deficiencies that raise questions about a lack of objectivity and thoroughness. We will continue to pursue our investigation wherever the facts lead. We want a full accounting of the lane closings and any related abuses of power and what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
You can watch the press conference above and read the full report below:
Here are the report’s key findings:
1. Christie Didn’t Know About Bridgegate
The major takeaway from the report is that New Jersey Governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Chris Christie did not order or know anything incriminating about the closing of the George Washington Bridge and the true motivations behind it.
David Wildstein, Christie’s formal ally in the Port Authority, earlier told investigators that he told the governor about the closures. The New York Times keys in on the report’s discrediting of Wildstein’s claim be reporting that Christie had “no memory” of the conversation ever taking place.
The report reads:
Our investigation found that Governor Christie did not know of the lane realignment beforehand and had no involvement in the decision to realign the lanes.
2. The Hoboken Mayor Is a Liar
The other major allegation against Governor Christie was that he threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief money from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer if she did not support one of his initiatives. The report found that Christie was also innocent of these charges saying:
Our investigation found that Mayor Zimmer’s allegations are, in material respects, demonstrably false. They are contradicted by contemporaneous documents, other witnesses’ accounts, and her own prior statements.
By clearing Christie of Zimmer’s allegations, the report is calling Zimmer a liar.
3. Bridget Anne Kelly Is the Sole Culprit in Christie’s Administration
The report portrays former Christie deputy chief-of-staff Bridget Anne Kelly as one of the main co-conspirators in the bridge closing scandal, and the only guilty party within the Christie administration. THe report shows evidence that Kelly attempted to delete evidence of the bridge closing plot.
In December 2013, the report finds, Kelly instructed an assistant to “get rid” of an email that discussed how unhappy the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, the town most affected by the bridge closure, was over the “traffic study.”
4. New Jersey Should Appoint an Ethics Officer
The report concludes with a number of recommendations so that an incident like the bridge closure cannot be repeated. Among suggestions like restricting the use of personal email accounts while doing government work, the report suggests the mayor’s office appoints an ethics officer:
The Chief Ethics Officer would subsume and expand the duties of the Office’s current Ethics Liaison Officer. Among other things, the Chief Ethics Officer would be primarily dedicated to all ethics-related matters in the Office, and would serve as an in-house expert on applicable ethics rules and codes of conduct…
5. The Port Authority Needs to Be More Independent
The reports recommends that Port Authority, often a victim of the tug-of-war battle between New York and New Jersey, be the subject of new legislation allowing for independence and transparency.
Consideration should be given to restructuring to permit each State to have primary operational oversight responsibility for completing specific projects and specific sites within their jurisdiction.