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Politics

A Panel Clears Christie of Involvement in “Bridgegate”

Legislative Investigation Still Ongoing and Searching for Answers

A legal review board of Governor Chris Christie’s involvement in “Bridgegate” has cleared the governor of any wrong doing or prior knowledge of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, according to Politico.com on March 24, 2014.

However, two more investigations are still in place by the New Jersey State Legislature and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.

According to CBS News, the review was done by the Gibson Dunn & Crutcher law firm. The lawyer that led the investigation, Randy M. Mastro, dismissed any speculation and will release information about the timeline of communications leading up to the lane closures. According to the CBS article the review included 70 interviews with every member who is currently on Christie’s senior staff, and included Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, top officials at the Port Authority, and Governor Christie himself. The firm also went through private email accounts, text messages, phone calls, and Governor Christie’s private IPhone.

This review will receive some skepticism because it is somewhat controversial. Although 70 members of Christie’s staff were interviewed, the review failed to interview former staff members Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Stepien, according to Politico.com. These staff members have been removed but were key players because their emails linked the administration to the scandal. David Wildstein, an ex-Port Authority official that was appointed by Christie, was also not interviewed. Not to mention that the review also cost more than $1 million in legal fees that will be paid by New Jersey tax payers.

Even though it is looking as if Christie will be proven not guilty, the media coverage of this scandal has had a damaging effect on his reputation. There are many differing opinions about this. On March 11th, a Farleigh Dickinson poll showed that Governor Christie’s approval rating has dipped down to 41 percent.

Dr. Joseph Patten Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department said that he does not see Governor Christie as a serious presidential candidate. “Governor Christie’s strengths were that he worked well with members of separate parties, that he’s honest, and that he relates to average people.” He continued to say, “This scandal contradicts those three strengths, so this scandal really hurts his chances of making a run in 2016,” said Patten. 

Assistant professor of communication, Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson added that, “The scandal has reduced Christie’s ability to focus on his agenda following his re-election. The huge media focus when the scandal broke has died down, but there is still a mention of it in nearly every story about him.” He continued, “Christie will have to continue to moderate his communication style. He doesn’t want to come off like a bully, even though that style is what brought him attention and political success in the first place.”

Phillips-Anderson continued, “He can’t really get on with his agenda until there is a clear resolution, which is difficult in a case like this. He really needs it to pass so he can get onto what he clearly wants to be his main focus, running for president.”

The Monmouth University Polling Institute actually shows that 89 percent of Republicans still approve of Governor Christie.

Will Grant, a junior communciation major said about the bridge scandal, “I think it will blow over. People are always trying to find something to bring someone down.”

IMAGE TAKEN from The Monmouth University Polling Institute

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