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Chris Christie Administration Facing Inquiry Over Actions On Second Bridge

The Pulaski Skyway

While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is already shoulder deep in the investigation of illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, another scandal is growing over a second bridge under his authority – the Pulaski Skyway. The Pulaski Skyway is an elevated roadway that connects the New Jersey cities of Newark and Jersey City and, according to the New York Times, is the subject of an inquiry by the Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The inquiry is reportedly looking into how the Christie Administration pressured the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to finance repairs to the bridge and whether that activity violated securities laws and was an inappropriate use of Port Authority funds. Unlike the George Washington Bridge, the Pulaski Skyway is completely within the domain of the state of New Jersey as Port Authority officials reportedly told the Christie Administration.

Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency’s purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.

But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected.

For those unfamiliar with New Jersey traffic patterns this is a particularly odd claim to make, the Skyway is not primarily used to get to New York City. Its purpose is to connect Newark and Jersey City and numerous commuters use it for that purpose alone. Route 78 is the typical route to get across the Hudson River when starting out at Newark or when coming up the New Jersey turnpike heading to New York where 78 is before the Skyway exit and is a designated exit for New York City.

But even if one were to believe the Christie Administration’s bizarre traffic theory, the use of Port Authority funds is still problematic. According to bond documents reviewed by the Times the Port Authority called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements” which is dancing on, if not falling over, the line concerning fraud. A fraud that would have been committed in official financial documents – hence the SEC’s involvement – which would have violated New York State’s Martin Act.

If that was not enough there also may be inquiries into deals done by the Christie Administration on other bridges in the state of New Jersey that used Port Authority funds. All most certainly done, like the cancelling of the ARC tunnel, to stimulate the economy while avoiding having to raise taxes and therefore propel Chris Christie’s reputation as a fiscal conservative and political career forward.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Chris Christie Administration Facing Inquiry Over Actions On Second Bridge

The Pulaski Skyway

While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is already shoulder deep in the investigation of illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, another scandal is growing over a second bridge under his authority – the Pulaski Skyway. The Pulaski Skyway is an elevated roadway that connects the New Jersey cities of Newark and Jersey City and, according to the New York Times, is the subject of an inquiry by the Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The inquiry is reportedly looking into how the Christie Administration pressured the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to finance repairs to the bridge and whether that activity violated securities laws and was an inappropriate use of Port Authority funds. Unlike the George Washington Bridge, the Pulaski Skyway is completely within the domain of the state of New Jersey as Port Authority officials reportedly told the Christie Administration.

Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency’s purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.

But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected.

For those unfamiliar with New Jersey traffic patterns this is a particularly odd claim to make, the Skyway is not primarily used to get to New York City. Its purpose is to connect Newark and Jersey City and numerous commuters use it for that purpose alone. Route 78 is the typical route to get across the Hudson River when starting out at Newark or when coming up the New Jersey turnpike heading to New York where 78 is before the Skyway exit and is a designated exit for New York City.

But even if one were to believe the Christie Administration’s bizarre traffic theory, the use of Port Authority funds is still problematic. According to bond documents reviewed by the Times the Port Authority called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements” which is dancing on, if not falling over, the line concerning fraud. A fraud that would have been committed in official financial documents – hence the SEC’s involvement – which would have violated New York State’s Martin Act.

If that was not enough there also may be inquiries into deals done by the Christie Administration on other bridges in the state of New Jersey that used Port Authority funds. All most certainly done, like the cancelling of the ARC tunnel, to stimulate the economy while avoiding having to raise taxes and therefore propel Chris Christie’s  reputation as a fiscal conservative and political career forward.

Image from the Library of Congress under public domain.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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