Call me crazy, but as I listened to Gov. Christie go through his policy priorities for the coming year in his annual State of the State speech, I got the sense his legislative agenda was being upstaged by the scandal that has surrounded him and his administration over the past week.
Christie started off his speech by addressing the ongoing investigations into both the lane closings of the George Washington Bridge, and the use of federal funds dedicated for Sandy relief efforts.
“Mistakes were clearly made, and as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve,” Christie said, indicating his administration would cooperate “with all appropriate inquiries” to “ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.”
He could start by coming clean. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Christie and David Wildstein, the former Port Authority executive who ordered the lane closures, were together and joking while the lanes on the bridge were still closed.
During a press conference last week addressing the connection of members of his inner circle with the lane closures, Christie distanced himself from Wildstein, saying he didn’t have any contact with him “in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” which was held Nov. 5. Would you consider two months “a long time?” Depends on your definition of “is.”
Christie also needs to come clean about correspondence sent to his office by N.J. state Senator Loretta Weinberg, whose district is home to Ft. Lee. Weinberg sent Christie a letter complaining about the lane closures on Sept. 19, two weeks before Christie says he found out about the controversy.
So when did Christie actually find out about the closures – Oct. 1, as he maintains, Sept. 19, when his office received Weinberg’s letter, or Sept. 11, when he is seen hamming it up with Wildstein. Or before?
On the “Stronger than the Storm” front, the Asbury Park Press is reporting that new documents show Christie’s administration is hiding details of the $25 million ad campaign which featured him and his wife during his re-election campaign.
The administration has already dragged its feet, taking months to release specifics about the bidding process, despite open record laws in the state that require such information be provided within seven days. On the newest records, the names of evaluations were redacted for no reason, making it impossible for the press or anyone else to get to the bottom of who approved the decision, and why.
“I know our citizens deserve better. Much better.” Glad we got that out of the way Governor, and I’m happy you plan on cooperating fully with both investigations. I just have a simple question – when do you plan to start?
Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe