NJ Gov. Christie Won’t Face Misconduct Charge In Bridge Scandal

NEWARK, N.J. (Bloomberg News/TNS) -
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won’t be charged with official misconduct over his role in the politically motivated traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in 2013, a county prosecutor decided.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said in a letter that it wouldn’t pursue a citizen’s complaint for a “simple, but compelling” reason –– the “charge cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Bill Brennan, a retired firefighter, claimed that Christie should have done more to stop the traffic jams that led to convictions of three of the governor’s allies in federal court.

Brennan filed a citizen’s complaint in the middle of the trial of two Christie allies last fall, leading a municipal judge, Roy McGeady, to say that probable cause existed for the county prosecutor’s office to consider an indictment. But a county judge overturned that finding this month and ordered a new hearing after ruling that Christie’s lawyers should have been allowed to question Brennan.

“The governor is gratified that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has ended this baseless fiasco,” Christie spokesman Brian Murray said in e-mailed statement. “After a thorough review, the Prosecutor’s Office was crystal clear: there is no basis for this charge against the governor.”

First Assistant Prosecutor John L. Higgins III explained the office’s position in a letter to the judge. The county prosecutor, a Christie appointee, had recused himself.

Two former Christie allies, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, were convicted of plotting to snarl traffic to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not backing the governor’s re-election. They were convicted, and another former Christie associate, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty and testified against them.

Once the plot became public, it created a national scandal that helped undermine Christie’s political ambitions, which included a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last year and aspirations of a senior post in President Donald Trump’s administration.