Chris Christie

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Chris Christie
Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Governor Christie at the 2011 Time 100 Gala
55th Governor of New Jersey
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 19, 2010
Lieutenant Kim Guadagno
Preceded by Jon Corzine
Chairman of the Republican Governors Association
Incumbent
Assumed office
November 21, 2013
Preceded by Bobby Jindal
United States Attorney for New Jersey
In office
January 17, 2002 – December 1, 2008[1]
Nominated by George W. Bush
Preceded by Robert Cleary
Succeeded by Ralph Marra
Member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
In office
January 1, 1995 – December 31, 1997
Preceded by Edward A. Tamm
Succeeded by John J. Murphy
Personal details
Born Christopher James Christie[2]
(1962-09-06) September 6, 1962 (age 51)
Newark, New Jersey
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Pat Foster (m. 1986); 4 children
Residence Mendham Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater University of Delaware
Seton Hall University
Religion Roman Catholic[3]
Signature

Christopher James "Chris" Christie (born September 6, 1962) is the 55th Governor of New Jersey and a leading member of the Republican Party.

Born in Newark, Christie became interested in politics at an early age, and volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Tom Kean in 1977. A 1984 graduate of the University of Delaware, he earned a J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law. Christie joined a Cranford law firm in 1987, where he became a partner in 1993, and continued practicing until 2002.

He was elected as a county legislator in Morris County, serving from 1995 to 1998, during which time he generally pushed for lower taxes and lower spending. By 2002, Christie had campaigned for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush; the latter appointed him as United States Attorney for New Jersey, a position he held from 2002 to 2008. In that position, he emphasized prosecutions of political corruption, and also obtained convictions for sexual slavery, arms trafficking, racketeering by gangs, as well as other federal crimes.

In January 2009, Christie declared his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey. He won the Republican primary, and defeated incumbent Governor Jon Corzine in the election that November. In 2013, he won re-election as Governor, defeating Democrat Barbara Buono by a margin of over 22%. He was sworn in to a second term as governor on January 21, 2014. On November 21, 2013, Christie was elected Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, succeeding Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Christie was seen as a potential candidate in the 2012 presidential election, and though not running, he was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He is viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. The ongoing investigations of the Fort Lee lane closure scandal have posed a challenge for Christie, who denies wrongdoing.

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Christie was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Sondra A. (née Grasso) and Wilbur James "Bill" Christie, a certified public accountant.[4][5][6] His father is of Scottish and Irish descent, and his mother was of Sicilian ancestry.[7][8][9][10] He was raised in Livingston, graduating from Livingston High School in 1980.[11] Christie's father and mother were Republican and Democratic, respectively. He has credited, however, his Democratic-leaning mother for indirectly making him a Republican by encouraging him in 1977 to volunteer for the gubernatorial candidate who became his role model: Tom Kean.[5]

Christie graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1984 and Seton Hall University School of Law with a J.D. in 1987. Christie was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Bar of the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in December 1987. Later in life, he was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by Rutgers University and Monmouth University.[12][13]

In 1986, Christie married Mary Pat Foster, a fellow student at the University of Delaware. After marriage they shared a studio apartment in Summit, New Jersey.[14] Mary Pat Christie pursued a career in investment banking, eventually working at the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald. She left the firm in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.[5] They have two boys and two girls born from 1993 to 2003.[15]

Christie and his family reside in Mendham Township.[16][17] His hobbies have included coaching Little League, cheering for the New York Mets, and attending Bruce Springsteen concerts (over 120 of them).[18][19]

Law practice and local politics[edit]

Lawyer[edit]

In 1987, Christie joined the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey.[20] In 1993 he was named a partner in the firm.[20] Christie specialized in securities law, appellate practice, election law, and government affairs. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association and was a member of the Election Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Morris County Freeholder[edit]

Christie, at the time a resident of Mendham, was in 1994 elected as a Republican to the Board of Chosen Freeholders for Morris County, New Jersey, after he and a running mate defeated incumbent freeholders in the party primary. Following the election, the defeated incumbents filed a defamation lawsuit against Christie based on statements made during the [21] primary campaign. Christie had incorrectly stated that the incumbents were under "investigation" for violating certain local laws. The lawsuit was settled out of court, with Christie acknowledging that the prosecutor had actually convened an "inquiry" instead of an "investigation", and apologizing for the error, which he said was unintentional.[22][23]

As freeholder, Christie required the county government to obtain three quotes from qualified firms for all contracts. He led a successful effort to bar county officials from accepting gifts from people and firms doing business with the county. He voted to raise the county's open space tax for land preservation; however, county taxes on the whole were decreased by 6.6% during his tenure. He successfully pushed for the dismissal of an architect hired to design a new jail, saying that the architect was costing taxpayers too much money. The architect then sued Christie for defamation over remarks he made about the dismissal, eventually dropping the suit without explanation.[24][25]

In 1995, Christie announced a bid for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly; he and attorney Rick Merkt ran as a ticket against incumbent Assemblyman Anthony Bucco and attorney Michael Patrick Carroll in the Republican primary, Christie's ticket running as a pro-choice candidate and supporter of the ban on assault weapons.[26] Bucco and Carroll, the establishment candidates, defeated the up-and-comers by a wide margin. After this loss, Christie's bid for re-nomination to the freeholder board was unlikely, as unhappy Republicans recruited John J. Murphy to run against Christie in 1997. Murphy defeated Christie in the primary.[27] Murphy, who had falsely accused Christie of having the county pay his legal bills in the architect's lawsuit, was sued by Christie after the election. They settled out of court with the Freeholders admitting wrongdoing and apologizing.[28] Christie's career in Morris County politics was over by 1998.[27]

Lobbyist[edit]

When Christie's part-time position as a Chosen Freeholder lapsed, he returned full attention to his law firm Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci. Alongside fellow partner and later, gubernatorial campaign fundraiser Bill Palatucci, Christie's firm opened an office in the state capital, Trenton, devoted mainly to lobbying.[29][30][31] Between 1999 and 2001, Christie and Palatucci lobbied on behalf of, among others, GPU Energy for deregulation of New Jersey's electric and gas industry;[30] the Securities Industry Association to block the inclusion of securities fraud under the state's Consumer Fraud Act; Hackensack University Medical Center for state grants; and the University of Phoenix for a New Jersey higher education license.[32]

United States Attorney[edit]

Appointment[edit]

On December 7, 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Christie the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Some members of the New Jersey Bar professed disappointment at Christie's lack of experience. At the time, he had never practiced in a federal courtroom before, and had little experience in criminal law. Concerns were also raised about his history as a top fundraiser for Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. He helped raise $350,000 for Bush, qualifying him as a "Pioneer".[33][34] Democrats seized upon the role played by Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, after Christie's law partner, William Palatucci, a Republican political consultant and Bush supporter, boasted that he had selected a United States attorney by forwarding Christie's résumé to Rove.[35]

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, some felt that Christie was not experienced enough to be a U.S. Attorney in a state across the river from New York City. According to New Jersey's senior Senator, Bob Torricelli, Christie promised to appoint a "professional" with federal courtroom experience as deputy if confirmed. By Senate tradition, if a state's senior Senator opposes the nomination of a U.S. Attorney, the nomination is effectively dead, but Christie's promise was enough for Torricelli to give the nomination his blessing.[34] He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, and sworn into office on January 17, 2002.

The brother of Christie's uncle (his aunt's second husband) was an organized crime figure; according to Christie, the FBI presumably knew that when they conducted his background check.[36] Later, Christie recused himself and commented about what he had learned growing up with such a relative: "It just told me that you make bad decisions in life and you wind up paying a price."[36]

Record[edit]

Christie served as the United States Attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008.

Christie served as the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer in New Jersey from January 17, 2002, to December 1, 2008. His office included 137 attorneys, with offices in Newark, Trenton, and Camden. Christie also served on the 17-member Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys for Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales.

Soon after taking office, Christie let it be known that his office would make public corruption a high priority, second only to terrorism.[34] During his eight-year tenure, he received praise for his record of convictions in public corruption cases. His office convicted or won guilty pleas from 130 public officials, both Republican and Democratic, at the state, county and local levels.[37] The most notable of these convictions included those of Democratic Hudson County Executive Robert C. Janiszewski in 2002 on bribery charges,[38] Republican Essex County Executive James W. Treffinger in 2003 on corruption charges,[39] former Democratic New Jersey Senate President John A. Lynch, Jr., in 2006 on charges of mail fraud and tax evasion,[40] State Senator and former Newark Democratic mayor Sharpe James in 2008 on fraud charges,[41] and Democratic State Senator Wayne R. Bryant in 2008 on charges of bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud.[42]

According to Rachel Barkow and Anthony Barkow, both of NYU Law School, Christie negotiated seven deal deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) during his tenure, some of which were controversial.[43] Under agreements like these, corporations avoid prosecution if they promise not just to obey the law or pay for bad acts, but also promise to change personnel, or revamp business practices, or adopt new types of corporate governance. They are typically used in lieu of prosecution when there is evidence of particularly egregious corporate misconduct. Since 2002, these types of agreements have been sharply on the rise among federal prosecutors, with 23 between 2002 and 2005, and 66 between 2006 and 2008.[43] Outside monitors are appointed in about half of all DPAs, to make sure that the corporations comply.[43] In one case, Christie recommended appointment of The Ashcroft Group, a consulting firm owned by his former boss John Ashcroft, as an outside monitor of Zimmer Holdings — a contract worth as much as $52 million from Zimmer, which was an amount in line with fee structures at that time.[44][45][46] In another instance, Christie's office deferred criminal prosecution of pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers in a deal that required the company to dedicate $5 million for a business ethics chair at Seton Hall University School of Law, Christie's alma mater.[47][48]

Christie defended the appointment of Ashcroft as someone with the necessary prominence and legal acumen,[49] and he defended the Seton Hall donation as happenstance given that there was already a business ethics endowed chair at the only other law school in the state.[50] Still, cases like these led to new rules within the Justice Department,[44][51] and sparked a congressional hearing on the subject.[43][52][53]

Besides doubling the size of the anticorruption unit for New Jersey,[54] Christie also prosecuted other federal crimes. For example, he obtained convictions of brothel owners who kept Mexican teenagers in slavery as prostitutes, convicted 42 gang members of the Double II Set of various crimes including more than 25 murders, and convicted British trader Hemant Lakhani of trying to sell missiles.[55] Despite claims of entrapment,[56] Lakhani was convicted by jury in April 2005 of attempting to provide material support to terrorists, unlawful brokering of foreign defense articles and attempting to import merchandise into the U.S. by means of false statements, plus two counts of money laundering. He was sentenced to 47 years in prison.[57]

Christie at a town hall meeting in Union City, New Jersey, on February 9, 2011.

During the second term of George W. Bush, a controversy arose about the administration's dismissal of several U.S. attorneys, allegedly for political reasons. When it was revealed that Christie had been on a preliminary version of the hit list, New York Senator Charles Schumer said: "I was shocked when I saw Chris Christie's name on the list last night. It just shows a [Justice] department that has run amok."[58] Pat Meehan, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said: "Among his peers, Chris stands out as one of the most admired. If you were to create a list of the U.S. attorneys who have had the greatest impact, Chris would be one of the top two or three names I'd put on it. This defies explanation."[58]

Christie's opponents claimed that he had gotten off the Bush administration's hit list by going after U.S. Senator Robert Menendez; for example, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, "Menendez's claims of persecution now seem quite plausible."[58] Christie had issued a subpoena regarding Menendez 65 days before the 2006 election.[59] Christie's biographers (journalists Michael Symons and Bob Ingle) concluded that, "The timing of the Menendez-related subpoena doesn't line up right to support the critics' theory."[58] Christie's aides have said that the subpoena was prompted by a newspaper report about Menendez,[60] which prosecutors feared might imminently lead to destruction of documents and other evidence. The investigation of Menendez continued for years after Christie left office as U.S. Attorney, until Menendez was finally cleared on October 5, 2011.[58]

Governor of New Jersey[edit]

Campaign for office[edit]

Christie's campaign bus pulls out front of Stainton Square in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Christie filed as a candidate for the office of Governor on January 8, 2009.[61] In the primary on June 2, Christie won the Republican nomination with 55% of the vote, defeating opponents Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt.[62] He then chose Kimberly Guadagno, Monmouth County sheriff, to complete his campaign ticket as a candidate for lieutenant governor. On November 3, Christie defeated Jon Corzine by a margin of 48.5% to 44.9%, with 5.8% of the vote going to independent candidate Chris Daggett.[63]

Christie took office as Governor of New Jersey on January 19, 2010.[64] He chose not to move his family into Drumthwacket, the governor's official mansion, and instead resides in a private Mendham Township, New Jersey, residence.[65]

Actions as governor[edit]

Fiscal[edit]

During his term as Governor, Christie delivered balanced budgets annually for the state as required by the New Jersey Constitution. He claims to have done so without increasing taxes, though this has been debated as he has made reductions to tax credits such as the earned income tax credit and property tax relief programs.[66][67] Under Christie, there have so far been no rate increases in the state's top three revenue generators: income tax, sales tax, and corporate business tax.[67]

Christie originally proposed a 10 percent income tax cut for all residents of the State, but he later targeted his proposal for people earning less than $400,000 per year, and it would be in the form of an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of their property taxes, capped at $10,000 (phased in over four years).[68] The Democratic-controlled state legislature has refused to implement it to date.[68]

Christie at a town hall in March 2011

On February 11, 2010, Christie signed Executive Order No. 14, which declared that a "state of fiscal emergency exists in the State of New Jersey" due to the projected $2.2 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year (FY 2010).[69] In a speech before a special joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on the same day, Christie addressed the budget deficit and proposed various fiscal measures to close the gap. Christie also suspended funding for the Department of the Public Advocate and called for its elimination.[70] Some Democrats criticized Christie for not first consulting them on his budget cuts and for circumventing the Legislature's role in the budget process.[71] In late June 2011, Christie utilized New Jersey's line item veto to eliminate nearly $1 billion from the proposed budget, signing it into law just hours prior to the July 1, 2011, beginning of the state's fiscal year.[72]

In 2010, Christie signed legislation to limit annual property tax growth to 2 percent.[73]

In June 2011, Christie announced a deal with the Democratic leadership of the legislature on a reform of public employee pensions and benefits. The deal raised public employees' pension contributions, mandated the state to make annual payments into the system, increased public employee contributions toward health insurance premiums, and ended collective bargaining for health benefits. The reform is projected to save the state $120 billion over 30 years.[74]

During his second year in office, Christie signed into law a payroll tax cut reducing funding of the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) fund by $190 million per year. Effective calendar year 2012, the tax cut authorizes the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to reduce payroll deduction for most employees from $148 to $61 per year. According to Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths, New Jersey workers had been paying much more into the disability fund than what is needed to keep it solvent. The changes took effect on January 1, 2012.[75] The authorizing legislation was sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner of Lawrencville.

In June 2013, Christie signed a $33 billion state budget that makes a record $1.7 billion payment to the state's pension fund and also increases school funding by almost $100 million. The budget resulted from negotiations between Christie and Democratic leaders in the state legislature and was the first that Christie has signed as passed, without vetoing any of its provisions.[76]

On September 18, 2013, Christie signed legislation to overhaul the state's business tax incentive programs. The legislation reduces the number of tax incentive programs from five to two, raises the caps on tax credits, and allows smaller companies to qualify. It increases the credits available for businesses in South Jersey.[77]

Education[edit]

On August 25, 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $400 million in federal Race to the Top education grants to New Jersey would not be funded due to a clerical error in the state's application made by an unidentified mid-level state official. Christie responded by saying that the Obama administration bureaucracy had overstepped its authority and that the error lay in an administration failure to communicate with the New Jersey government.[78] However, information later came to light that the issue had already been raised with Christie's Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, and in response Christie had asked for Schundler's resignation; Schundler initially agreed to resign, but the following morning asked to be fired instead, citing his need to claim unemployment benefits. Schundler maintained that he told Christie the truth and that Christie was misstating what actually occurred.[79]

In January 2011, the Christie administration approved 23 new charter schools, including the state's first independent school for children with autism. The approvals increased the number of charter schools in the state to 96.[80]

On August 6, 2012, Christie signed a law reforming the tenure system for New Jersey public school teachers. Under the new law, teachers will be required to work four years, instead of three, in order to earn tenure. Additionally, teachers will need to earn positive ratings two years in a row before tenure can be awarded. Tenured teachers with poor ratings for two consecutive years will be eligible for dismissal. Finally the law limits the hearing process for appeals related to dismissal of tenured teachers to 105 days.[81]

On March 6, 2013, the Christie administration released proposed regulations to overhaul the process of evaluating public school teachers in New Jersey. Under the proposal, a percentage of teachers' evaluations would be based on student growth on state tests or based on student achievement goals set with principals.[82]

Hydraulic fracturing[edit]

Christie has rejected permanent bans on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New Jersey and vetoed measures that would ban the process and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste in the State. New Jersey has few proven shale reserves and the process is not practiced there. Christie argued that the vetoed Senate Bill (S253) was premature because of an ongoing study to be completed in 2014 and would discriminate against other states, a violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.[83] Supporters of legislation have said that hydraulic fracturing waste from Pennsylvania makes its way into New Jersey for treatment, although how much is not clear. They also criticized Christie's legal analysis saying that the Office of Legislative Services have said that the bill is constitutional.[83]

Social[edit]

On January 23, 2012, Christie filed the first nomination to the New Jersey Supreme Court of an openly gay man, Bruce Harris, and an Asian American, Phillip Kwon.[84] Kwon's nomination was rejected by the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, the first gubernatorial nominee for the Supreme Court in modern times[clarification needed] to fail to be approved.[85] Two months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Harris' nomination, purportedly because he lacked courtroom experience.[86] The partisan impasse over Christie's appointments to fill the vacancies on the New Jersey Supreme Court continues.

On February 17, 2012, he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey. He stated his belief that such a change requires a constitutional amendment and asked the legislature to provide for a referendum on the issue. He also called for creation of an Ombudsman to ensure compliance with the State's existing civil union law.[87]

On September 21, 2012, Christie signed Assembly Bill No. 2647 (A-2647) into law that requires employers to post and distribute notice of employees' rights to gender-equal pay, but vetoed other gender parity bills.[88]

In December 2012, Christie nominated Japanese American David Bauman, from Monmouth County, to the New Jersey Supreme Court;[89][90][needs update] if confirmed he would be the first Asian American to sit on the state's high court.[89] Opponents, including the Latino Action Network and New Jersey Legislature's black caucus, oppose the nomination, claiming the appointment would not make the court more diverse.[89]

On August 19, 2013, Christie signed a bill outlawing gay conversion therapy in children, making New Jersey the second state to institute such a law.[91] In October, he directed the attorney general to drop an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriages in the state.[92]

Hurricane Sandy emergency relief bill[edit]

On December 28, 2012, the U.S. Senate approved an emergency relief bill to provide $60 billion for states affected by Hurricane Sandy.[93] The House did not vote until the next session on Jan. 3. On January 2, Christie criticized the delay as "selfishness and duplicity", and blamed the House Republican leadership.[94] A bill for relief was passed in the House on January 15.[95]

Visit to the Middle East[edit]

Continuing the tradition of earlier New Jersey governors since the 1980s, Christie traveled to Israel in April 2012.[96] His itinerary in that region included Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, and the Golan Heights.[97][98] During the visit, which included meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Christie commented that "Jerusalem has never been better or freer than under Israeli control."[99][100] Christie subsequently called a helicopter tour of the West Bank "eye-opening", and cautioned against Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.[101] The official title given to the trip was "Jersey to Jerusalem Trade Mission: Economic Growth, Diplomacy, Observance".[102] The visit to Israel was Christie's first official overseas trip since taking office.[103] From Israel Christie continued with his family to Jordan, as guests of King Abdullah II.[104]

2013 re-election campaign[edit]

On November 26, 2012, Christie filed papers to run for a second term in office, which would begin in January 2014.[105][106] Christie won the election over Barbara Buono on November 5, 2013, by a large margin, earning himself the position of governor for a second straight term. His advisors say that his strategy was to focus on winning a huge margin in New Jersey against Democratic opponent Buono, which would help position the governor for the presidential primaries and develop a model for other Republican candidates.[107] Christie began building a national fundraising network, aided by the fact that only one other state had a gubernatorial contest in 2013, and those financial resources were intended to support a major outreach effort toward blacks, Hispanics and women.[107] He also ordered a $25 million special election to fill the seat of the deceased Senator Frank Lautenberg. The move was believed to be motivated by a desire to keep Newark Mayor Cory Booker from sharing an election day, 20 days afterward, with Christie, thereby depressing otherwise anticipated black voter turnout that tended to vote Democratic.[108]

Public opinion[edit]

  • Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind conducted in January 2010 found that he entered office with a 48–13% (approval-disapproval) rate among New Jersey voters.[109]
  • After Christie announced cuts to the state budget, PublicMind released another study showing that New Jersey voters split their opinions: 44% approving of Christie, 42% disapproving.[110]
  • His approval ratings increased by October 2010, when, according to the FDU PublicMind poll, 51% of New Jersey voters approved the way Christie was handling his job[111]
  • According to a January 2011 FDU PublicMind poll, Christie began the year with an approval rating of 53% among New Jersey voters.[112]
  • According to a January 2012 poll conducted by FDU PublicMind, with a sample of 800 registered New Jersey voters, 53% approved of the way Gov. Christie was handling his job[113]
  • In January 2013, FDU PublicMind found that 73% of registered New Jersey voters approved of the job that Christie was doing as governor.[114]
  • In January 2014, a national poll of registered voters by Quinnipiac University had 35% agreeing and 36% disagreeing that he would make a good president.[115]
  • In January 2014, an FDU PublicMind poll found that 48% of registered New Jersey voters approved of the job that Christie was doing as governor.[116][117]
  • In March 2014, an FDU PublicMind poll found that for the first time in Christie's governorship, more voters disapproved than approved of the job he was doing. 44% of registered New Jersey voters disapproved of the job that he was doing as governor, with 41% approving.[118]

Fort Lee lane closure scandal[edit]

George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River, looking west from Manhattan to Fort Lee and the Palisades

From September 9 through September 13, 2013, two of the traffic lanes used by Fort Lee, New Jersey, for access to the George Washington Bridge, which connects Fort Lee to New York City, were closed on orders from a senior Christie aide and an administration appointee. The problems began after two of three toll lanes for this entryway were closed to traffic from Fort Lee prior to the morning rush hour and reallocated to the main traffic from state and interstate expressways, resulting in massive back-ups on local streets over the course of five days.[119][120]

One common theory as to why the lanes were closed is that it was political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, in the 2013 gubernatorial election.[121][122] Another possible motive under investigation involves a major real estate development project, which was a top priority for Sokolich, that was underway at the Fort Lee bridge access point.[122][123]

In the aftermath of the scandal, multiple investigations were initiated by State and Federal authorities.[124][125] An internal review commissioned by Christie cleared him of any wrongdoing in the scandal and blamed senior staffers for orchestrating the traffic disruptions in Fort Lee. The internal review was conducted by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Its report was criticized as a "whitewash" by Democrats politicians and in several newspaper editorials.[126][127] The investigators were faced with refusals by some of the principals in the investigation to be interviewed, including several key officials in the Christie administration, as well as Democratic mayor Dawn Zimmer.[128] According to NBCNews, "An internal review commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey concludes that the governor was not aware of the political retribution being planned by a pair of his associates in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal."[129]

Several of Christie's appointees and aides resigned, and Christie fired others, as investigations into the closures intensified.[130][131] In a February 3, 2014 radio interview Christie indicated that he "unequivocally" had no knowledge of, did not approve, and did not authorize plans to close the toll lanes, and stated that he first found out about the traffic jams from a Wall Street Journal story after the lanes had been reopened.[132] In an interview on ABC, Christie reiterated that he was shocked by the actions of his former aides, stating that "Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things."[133]

Presidential politics[edit]

Christie is considered a leader of the Republican Party.[134][135] He was the subject of ongoing speculation that he would attempt a run for President of the United States in 2012 by competing in the Republican primaries. Through 2013 he denied any interest in launching a presidential bid. In September 2011, a number of press stories cited unnamed sources indicating Christie was reconsidering his decision to stay out of the race. An Associated Press story dated September 30 indicated a decision on whether he would run for president in 2012 would be made "soon".[136] In a late September speech at the Reagan Library, he had again said he was not a candidate for president, but the speech also coincided with his "reconsideration" of the negative decision. One commentator at that time reviewed reported support from David H. and Charles G. Koch, Kenneth Langone, and others for Christie's potential candidacy.[137] Retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch went on the Charlie Rose Show to articulate his and others' support for a candidacy,[138] and Langone went on the interview show October 4.[139]

Decision not to run in 2012[edit]

On October 4, 2011, Christie acknowledged he had in fact reconsidered his decision but then, again, declined to run.[140] It was "for real this time", as one report put it. "Now is not my time", Christie said.[141] "New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me," Christie added in the one-hour Trenton press conference held to announce the decision.[142] On October 11, 2011, Christie endorsed Mitt Romney for president.[143]

The New York Post has cited anonymous sources as saying Christie was not willing to give up the governorship to be Mitt Romney's running mate because he had doubts about their ability to win. The Romney campaign was reported to have asked him to resign his governorship if he became the vice-presidential nominee because "pay to play" laws restrict campaign contributions from financial corporation executives to governors running for federal office when the companies do business with the governor's state.[144]

Activities related to 2012 presidential election[edit]

President Barack Obama and Governor Chris Christie talk with local residents in Brigantine, New Jersey.

Christie gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in August 2012.[145] On October 30, 2012, during a press conference to discuss the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Christie praised the disaster relief efforts of President Barack Obama.[146][147][148]

Christie stated he still supported Romney and was opposed to many of Obama's policies, but thought Obama deserved credit for his help in the disaster reliefs in New Jersey.[149] Christie had campaigned with Romney for much of the election, but stated Romney did not ask him to join him in campaigns for the last week before the election, to allow Christie to focus on disaster relief.[150] Christie faced significant backlash before and after the election from conservative Republicans who accused him of acting to bolster his own personal political standing at the expense of Romney and the party.[151][152]

Health and weight[edit]

Political commentators debated whether Christie's weight would or should affect his viability as a 2012 presidential candidate, either for medical or social reasons.[153] In 2011, columnist Eugene Robinson applied the term "extremely obese" to Christie, citing medical guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health. Christie himself was reportedly concerned about his weight and its implications for his health, while describing himself as relatively healthy overall.[154]

The Obesity Society, a nonprofit scientific group, released a statement asserting, "to suggest that Governor Christie's body weight discounts and discredits his ability to be an effective political candidate is inappropriate, unjust, and wrong."[155] Christie underwent lap-band stomach surgery in February 2013 and disclosed the surgery to the New York Post in May of that year.[156]

National role after 2012[edit]

In the aftermath of the election, Christie maintained his national profile and continued to clash with conservatives in his party by strongly criticizing House Speaker John Boehner regarding aid for Hurricane Sandy[157] and then the National Rifle Association for their ad that mentioned President Obama's children.[158] Christie was subsequently not invited to speak at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which is largely seen as a stepping-stone for Republicans running for President. The CPAC chair explained that Christie was not invited "for decisions that he made", but that "hopefully next year he's back on the right track and being a conservative."[159] On February 3, 2014, CPAC announced on their Facebook account that Governor Christie would be a speaker at the yearly conference.[160]

2016 Presidential nomination[edit]

Some political commentators view Christie as a leading contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.[161][162][163] According to polls conducted after the George Washington Bridge scandal, Christie sustained a substantial erosion in his political standing and his 2016 presidential campaign prospects, and polls show him behind Hillary Clinton in general election polling.[164][165][166][167][168]

In March 2014, Christie gave a foreign policy speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition also attended by other Republican presidential hopefuls. In it, Christie said that everyone he met in Israel during his visit, wanted America to be an "unblinking, unwavering unquestioning friend" but worried that this was no longer true. He said that he is in the business to win elections and not just arguments, saying "If we want to just have arguments and stand for nothing, we could just form a university." Christie said he was overwhelmed by displays of religious tolerance during his recent trip to Jerusalem and used the term "occupied territories" in reference to lands in dispute. Christie later apologized to Sheldon Adelson for using that term, which is rejected by conservative Zionists who see it as validating Palestinian views.[169]

In an interview on Fox News on March 31, 2014, Christie stated that he is still in "decision-making process" regarding a possible run in 2016, and forwarded the names of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan as his top three GOP candidate choices.[170]

Electoral history[edit]

References[edit]

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    The new monitoring guidelines offer no rules to help prosecutors determine how much a monitor should be paid. In Mr. Ashcroft's case, the fees were determined in negotiations between Zimmer and his firm, the Ashcroft Group. Outside lawyers who have reviewed Mr. Ashcroft's fee structure said it was not out of line. But Professor Henning said he believed that many companies were willing to pay exorbitant fees to a monitor in hopes of leniency.

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  157. ^ "Chris Christie rips NRA's anti-Obama ad; Rand Paul rips Christie". Los Angeles Times. January 18, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  158. ^ Frumin, Aliyah (March 14, 2013). "CPAC Chair: Chris Christie 'didn't deserve' to be here". msnbc.com. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  159. ^ > https://www.facebook.com/CPACNews/photos/a.440592432397.242234.18079407397/10152177475022398/?type=1&stream_ref=10>.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  160. ^ George Will (January 30, 2013). "Chris Christie, volcanic politics and Election 2016". The Washington Post. 
  161. ^ Susan Heavey (January 9, 2013). "New Jersey's Christie: likely "more ready" for president in 2016". Reuters. 
  162. ^ Paul Steinhauser (November 10, 2012). "Analysis: It's never too early to talk about 2016". CNN. 
  163. ^ Miller, Jack. "Thanks to scandal, Clinton would crush Christie in 2016, poll says". CBS News. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  164. ^ Jhonson, Brent. "Chris Christie's 2016 prospects drop amid allegations, new poll shows". The Star Ledget. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  165. ^ Evans, Dave (January 9, 2014). "Gov. Christie faces political fallout from BridgeGate scandal". ABC. Retrieved 19 February 2014. [dead link]
  166. ^ Errol, Louis (December 17, 2013). "Bridge scandal tarnishes Chris Christie's image". CNN. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  167. ^ Conroy, Scott (January 22, 2014). "RCP's Scott Conroy on Whether Christie Can Weather the Storm". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  168. ^ See Kenneth P. Vogel, "Chris Christie apologizes for 'occupied territories' remark", POLITICO March 30, 2014
  169. ^ "Pick 3: Christie names top potential 2016 GOP candidates". Fox News. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 

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