Chris Christie loses court battle in the Bridgegate saga that just won’t die

A municipal court finds probable cause for a civil misconduct case to proceed.

A civil complaint brought against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his role in the 2013 Bridgegate scandal was granted new life by a municipal court judge in Bergen County on Thursday. Judge Roy McGeady ruled that there was probable cause for the case to proceed.

Bill Brennan, a former firefighter in Teaneck, filed the complaint last year, alleging misconduct by the Governor for his role in ordering the George Washington Bridge closed as an act of political retribution, and then covering it up after details came to light. Two former Christie staffers were convicted in 2016 for their roles in Bridgegate, and they alleged during their trial that Christie lied about his involvement.

This is the second time Judge McGeady has sided against Christie. In October, McGeady gave an initial go-ahead to Brennan’s case, forwarding it to the Bergen County prosecutor’s office, which ultimately declined to press charges.

A state superior court judge overturned McGeady’s initial ruling last month, arguing that Christie’s attorneys weren’t given a chance to question Brennan. But Judge Bonnie Mizdol declined to throw out the case, instead kicking it back to McGeady’s court for another hearing. Christie’s lawyers wanted the case dismissed, and were apoplectic after Thursday’s ruling.

“This concocted claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office, which summarily dismissed it, after concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this judge was utter nonsense,” said the governor’s press secretary Brian Murray, in a statement. “That is exactly what it is. The law requires this judge to have done the same. This is a complete non-event.”

Regardless, the case will now continue. Brennan and his supporters are hoping a superior court will appoint a special prosecutor to take up the case, arguing that county prosecutors like the one in Bergen County that declined to press charges are all public officials employed by the Christie administration and therefore incapable of impartiality.

For nearly four years, the Bridgegate saga has weighed heavily on Christie’s political career. Fresh revelations about his level of involvement in the case sporadically surfaced throughout his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination. After he allied himself with President Trump’s team, their lingering concerns about the scandal likely cost him campaign access and an administration job.