One bridge scandal has become two for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), as investigators are now probing whether his administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey violated securities laws with a 2011 road repair project, according to The New York Times.
The latest investigation focuses on a $1.8 billion renovation for the Pulaski Skyway, which connects Newark and Jersey City. Though Port Authority funds are intended for joint projects between New Jersey and New York, Christie's administration fought to have the agency divert money to the Pulaski Skyway anyway, according to the Times.
Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency's purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.
But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected. [The New York Times]
The Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission are handling the investigation, which apparently arose as a result of investigators probing Christie's other bridge fiasco. Under a New York law, prosecutors could bring felony charges against anyone who deliberately misled bond holders, according to the Times.
On its face, the new scuttlebutt seems less explosive than the last. Budgetary jujitsu doesn't scream "scandal" in quite the same way that petty political retribution does. Yet the latest investigation nonetheless casts Christie, again, as a tainted politician.
Christie said earlier this month that the last bridge scandal was "over, it's done." That may be so, but a new bridge story is just getting started.