I realize there are numerous readers here at Redstate chomping at the bits to see the downfall of Chris Christie, perhaps even more so than any Democrat. On one level, it is somewhat “sad,” but another level understandable. The most recent series of events involves a letter from David Wildstein’s lawyer. Wildstein is at the center of this scandal. He is the member of the Port Authority who received the e-mails from Robin Kelly, Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who suggested the bridge lane closures. He is the one with the most to lose in this controversy at this point. He has already lost his job; he may now lose his freedom.
When someone has their back against a legal wall with nowhere to go, they often lash out in bombastic fashion. This may be the ultimate act of a desperate actor making an allegation for which he may not have the backing evidence. If there was an e-mail or a text or any other evidence stating that Christie was aware of this action as it unfolded, or supported this childish act, or endorsed it, or in any other way was intimately involved, then Christie is rightfully toast. However, at this point it is simply a hollow accusation. Show us the proof; don’t puff your feathers.
A recent e-mail circulated by the Christie administration to supporters paints Wildstein in unflattering terms. Some of the accusations go back to his high school days. Again, these are the actions of a desperate actor with their back to the wall. More importantly, it begs the question as to why Christie himself would appoint Wildstein to this important position having known all this political baggage in the past of Wildstein.
There are also the accusations leveled against the Christie administration by Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer. She accuses the administration of withholding Sandy relief funds unless she approved a redevelopment project favored by the Christie administration in that city. Her proof? Her word regarding a parking lot meeting with the Lt. Governor and a personal journal entry. The Democratic mayor of Union (and Christie supporter) may be closer to the truth. Zimmer may be over-reacting as a result of the recent conviction of former Hoboken mayor, Pete Cammaranno, for rigging bids for redevelopment projects. In effect, anything said by anyone to a mayor of Hoboken today is grounds for corruption. Plus, one needs to question why Zimmer was silent all these months and only now has sought out prosecutors.
But that being said, one needs to understand that the Port Authority- the commission at the center of this controversy- remains one of the biggest political patronage dumping grounds for New Jersey and New York. For example, several Chrsitie state supreme court nominees who were not confirmed by the state senate found themselves appointed as attorneys for the Port Authority. This is the largest “independent commission” in the country with a $7 billion annual budget. It is more than bridges and tunnels linking New York with New Jersey; it is also airports, access roads, parks, trains, bus depots, and the World Trade Center. It is also perhaps one of the most dysfunctional commissions in the country. Generally speaking, I am against the federal government stepping in and taking over state operations, but they would be totally justified in this case. And before Democrats sling any more mud, Democratic governors like Florio, McGreevey and Corzine were equally guilty. That does not excuse Christie, however.
With this as the background, it becomes obvious that Christie was simply following the “Jersey way,” which is political patronage pure and simple. It is the name of the game, but only more glaringly so in a corrupt state like New Jersey. What makes it worse is that Christie holds himself out as something above all that. Although his reform agenda has certainly paid dividends in some respects, it is obviously business as usual in other areas including an authority with a $7 billion budget. The problem for Christie is that the perception he is trying to advertise is not quite squaring with the obvious facts.
Regarding those Sandy funds, there is yet another scandal brewing that, if true, I find more egregious than the Hoboken allegations. The other story is the alleged use of Sandy funds to create television commercials touting tourism in New Jersey after the storm. This amounts to a $25 million allegation. And it taints those accusations directed at House Republicans by Christie in the storm’s aftermath. That is $25 million that could have and should have gone to relief efforts for those affected by the storm (me included), not the state’s tourism image featuring Chris Christie. In retrospect, those “obstructionist” House Republicans who happen to be fiscally conservative were correct in the end, if these allegations are true.
In previous articles, some people have been mistaken in their perceptions that I am a Christie booster in national politics. I believe I have stated on several occasions that Christie may be fine as a Republican for New Jersey, but there were reservations regarding his national aspirations. This writer firmly believes the Republican nominee for president in 2016 will come from the ranks of governors. The reason? The anti-Washington fervor that should remain unabated through that electoral cycle. Personally, if a Scott Walker went up against Chris Christie, this writer would vote for Walker.
Regardless, it is certainly interesting to witness the meteoric rise and fall of Christie being played out before our eyes. No matter how this plays out- and he may be totally exonerated- Chris Christie is damaged goods now. Some of it is his own doing; some of it is political attack. In the end, one is left with the perception that Chris Christie is yet again just another politician. As governor of New Jersey, I will show my support because the alternatives are not appealing, but even that says something bad about the state of politics in New Jersey.