The head of the transit agency at the center of the traffic jam scandal engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration apologized to commuters Wednesday, and lawmakers investigating the apparent political payback plot moved to get information from two key figures.
David Samson, a Christie confidant whom the governor appointed to chair the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the agency is “deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused to our travelers.” He promised a full accounting of the closures last fall of lanes approaching the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge, even though he himself has been subpoenaed in the investigation.
Christie aides appear to have orchestrated the lane closings, which created hours-long traffic backups in Fort Lee, the town at the base of the bridge. The motive may have been to send a message to the mayor, a Democrat who did not endorse Christie. Five people close to the Republican governor, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, have been fired or resigned, and federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation separate from the lawmakers’ civil probe.
The legislators filed court papers Wednesday to compel two former aides to turn over documents related to the lane closures. The pair, former campaign manager Bill Stepien and fired aide Bridget Kelly, have cited their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to comply.
Samson’s apology, during the transit agency’s monthly meeting in New York, was his first public response to the lane closures and came after urging from a newly created oversight committee.