Another week, another chance for embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to repair damage from the bridge scandal that’s growing and threatening to derail his political career.
The Republican will hold a town hall meeting in Middletown, N.J., the first he has held since questions arose about his staffers’ plan to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge last September, seemingly for political retribution. The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed due to inclement weather and will be rescheduled for later this week.
Christie, who is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, will be joined by members of his cabinet to discuss his administration’s plans for doling out the second round of federal recovery funds as a result of Hurricane Sandy. He’s likely to face questions over the bridge scandal as the number of Christie’s connections to those involved in the scheme grows.
After that, Christie is expected to be in New York City for the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s winter retreat. And later in the week, Christie will attend the National Governor’s Association meeting in Washington.
The governor’s troubles don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. On Sunday, MNSBC’s Steve Kornacki reported that a man with long-time ties to Christie, Port Authority Police Lt. Thomas “Chip” Michaels, seemed to know of the pending lane closures before they happened.
E-mails indicate Michaels even took David Wildstein, Christie’s point man at Port Authority, on a tour during the start of the traffic jams on one of the country’s busiest bridges. Michaels grew up in Christie and Wildstein’s hometown of Livingston, N.J., and coached Christie’s son in Little League hockey. His brother, Jeffrey Michaels is considered one of the most powerful Republicans in New Jersey politics. The lobbyist has frequently donated to pro-Christie organizations.
Port Authority’s executive director Pat Foye has issued an investigation into the new report that Michaels was at the bridge when the access lanes were closed. Separately, the state committee investigating so-called “Bridgegate” has issued a total of 38 subpoenas to Christie’s staff and members of Port Authority, demanding to see any documents related to the lane closings. Christie is also being probed for the potential misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief money.
Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is co-chairing the special joint committee investigating the closures said their investigation hadn't yet uncovered Michael’s presence at the bridge during the closures. He told Kornacki that there’ seems to be a “growing number of individuals that seem to have some knowledge…that have some tie to the governor’s office or the governor himself.”
Christie is sticking to his story, denying any prior knowledge of the plan. Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie, told msnbc that “the governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic."