It's been a tough couple of weeks for Chris Christie. He's been hammered by Democrats surrounding the one-year anniversary of the scandal known as “Bridgegate," and dinged for the massive job losses and mega-hotel closures in Atlantic City. But if the New Jersey governor is worried, he’s certainly not acting like it.
On Wednesday, Christie will be in Illinois stumping as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association for gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. He’ll then head back to the Garden State for a fundraiser in the evening with failed 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate seems eager to put the George Washington Bridge scandal behind him. On Tuesday, he said that “more than enough questions” have been asked about the lane closure scheme that’s given his administration a black eye. Back in September of 2013, some of Christie’s top staffers and allies were seemingly motivated by political retribution when they ordered lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Christie has denied any prior knowledge of the plot and has since fired top aide Bridget Anne Kelly and cut ties with his former campaign manager Bill Stepien.
According to The Star-Ledger, while at an event in Camden, Christie did concede, however, that there haven’t been enough answers to questions surrounding the scandal, as several key players have refused to testify before a state legislative panel. But the governor did add that pleading the Fifth Amendment was their constitutional right. Christie’s administration is also under a federal investigation regarding the scheme.
"Do I think there have been enough questions asked? More than enough," he said. Christie had commissioned a separate, internal investigation into the lane closures — costing New Jersey taxpayers more than $7 million. The firm released its report clearing the Republican governor of any wrongdoing on March 27. But the internal report was immediately skewered by its opponents who argued it wasn’t independent,
Separately, the governor is being criticized over the thousands of workers in Atlantic City who lost their jobs following the recent closing of Revel and Showboat casinos. The Trump Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday is expected to close in November. The Trump Plaza will close this month.
Christie made a big bet on Atlantic City during the start of his tenure in office. At the time, he unveiled a five-year plan to revive the struggling city, which had declined after neighboring states opened numerous casinos and the economy took a downturn.
This week — seemingly in effort to increase gaming revenue in light of the casino closures — the governor issued a directive greenlighting the state’s casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting without fear of criminal or civil liability. The governor had initially vetoed two bills last month that would have allowed the betting. Christie said he issued the new directive based on previous court rulings that found nothing in the state law bars casinos and horse tracks from offering sports betting.
The move, however, is expected to be challenged in court by sports leagues.