Society

Ex-Chris Christie Aides Convicted For Bizarre Scheme

| by Sarah Zimmerman

Two former aides of Gov. Chris Christie have been convicted of charges relating to the closing of two access lanes on the George Washington Bridge in order to punish a New Jersey mayor for not endorsing Christie in his bid for re-election. 

after dropping out of the race for GOP presidential nominee, Christie has focused his efforts on helping Trump secure the presidency.

The convictions, however, could embroil him in scandal yet again if opponents attempt to cast doubt on his repeated claim that he was unaware of the situation. 

After a Democratic mayor refused to endorse his campaign for governor, Christie aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni closed two lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge as a form of revenge, according to The Times.

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That mayor wasn't the only one to face Christie's wrath for withholding endorsement. Talking Points Memo reports that Jersey City Mayor Steve Folup said he was offered "new access to state commissioners, who hold the purse strings for many Jersey City services" in exchange for his endorsement of Christie. When he chose to withhold endorsement, multiple meetings with several state commissioners were mysteriously canceled.

"Nearly every single meeting we have requested with state commissioners with regard to proactive Jersey City issues has been unfortunately rejected over the last six months, along with countless requests we made to the Port Authority," Folup said.

Kelly and Baroni could face a maximum sentence of 20 years prison time for misusing government resources and violating citizen rights. United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, told the Times that there is "no way" either will face the full 20 years, speculating that the sentence will probably range between one to three years. The two aides will expect to receive official sentencing Feb. 21 of next year.

The trial suggests that Christie himself was fully aware of and even involved in the conspiracy to close the access lanes, an accusation that he thoroughly denies. 

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"Let me be clear once again,’" he said in a statement, per the Times. "I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them. No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact.’"

Sources: The New York Times (2), Talking Points Memo / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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