At a morning press conference on Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he had fired Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff and top aide in his administration, for her role in the growing scandal involving the manufactured delays on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution and asked another aide not to seek a top position within the state Republican party.
He denied having advance knowledge about the lane closures or the involvement of his own staff. “I was blindsided yesterday morning,” he said. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee, I apologize members of the state legislature.” Christie also faced questions about his abrasive leadership style that some have described as bullying, and insisted that those characterizations are untrue.
“This is the exception,” he said. “It is not the rule of what’s happened over the last four years in the administration.”
But while Christie claimed that this was “not the way this administration has conducted itself over the last four years” and denied being a bully, accusations of political retribution have long surrounded the governor. For instance, former Gov. Richard Codey (D) accused the Christie administration of “sending a message” by denying him state trooper protection after he publicly disagreed with Christie. The same day, a Codey cousin was fired from his position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former Codey aide was removed from the New Jersey Office of Consumer Affairs.
After then State Sen. Sean Kean (R) told a reporter that Christie erred in not calling for a state of emergency sooner, during a 2010 blizzard, Christie’s staff banned Kean from attending the next news conference Christie held in Kean’s home district. A Christie aide told the Star-Ledger that Kean “got what he deserved.” Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal saw his state funding slashed after backing a re-districting map more favorable to Democrats and last year, confirmation of a judicial candidate recommended by State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R) suddenly stalled after the legislator voted against Christie’s public medical education system reorganization.
On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey announced that he would be opening up another investigation into the lane closings, joining the state legislature and the inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who are conducting investigations of their own.