(UPDATE) Former Christie Ally Pleads Guilty in Bridgegate

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie's No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton. The Christie administration stands accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, in order to create a huge traffic backup as retribution against a local mayor for not endorsing the governor's reelection. Documents released Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, by a New Jersey legislative committee looking into the scandal surrounding Gov. Chris Christie show two figures, Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, at the heart of the case making running jokes about the idea of creating traffic jams as a way to strike at enemies. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton.

[Update 4:15 p.m.] Christie responds. The Asbury Park Press:

“Today’s charges make clear that what I’ve said from day one is true,” Christie said, via Twitter. “I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act. The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperation with all appropriate investigations, which I have done. Now 15 months later is it time to let the justice system do its job.”

[Update 2 p.m.] Vox has some additional details, including news that two other officials have been indicted in the case:

David Wildstein, a former Port Authority official, pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy — for having intentionally misapplied the agency’s property, and for violating the rights of the town’s residents to travel.

Two other former members of the administration, Bridget Kelly (Christie’s ex-deputy chief of staff) and Bill Baroni (the top operational Port Authority official appointed by Christie), were charged on multiple similar counts.

In addition, Vox reports, there are other, as-yet-unindicted co-conspirators referred to by prosecutors.

[Original] The New York Times has the breaking news:

David Wildstein, another former Port Authority official and ally of Mr. Christie, pleaded guilty for his role in the lane closings.

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Former Christie Ally Expected to Plea in Bridgegate Controversy

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie's No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton. The Christie administration stands accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, in order to create a huge traffic backup as retribution against a local mayor for not endorsing the governor's reelection. Documents released Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, by a New Jersey legislative committee looking into the scandal surrounding Gov. Chris Christie show two figures, Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, at the heart of the case making running jokes about the idea of creating traffic jams as a way to strike at enemies. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton. The Christie administration stands accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, in order to create a huge traffic backup as retribution against a local mayor for not endorsing the governor’s reelection. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

David Wildstein, a former ally of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, is expected to plead to charges related to the “Bridgegate” scandal, according to reports.

Bloomberg reports: Read more »

NYT: Bridgegate Indictments Near

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

After more than a year of investigation, federal prosecutors in New Jersey are ready to bring indictments in the “Bridgegate” scandal, the New York Times reports.

Hearings by a special investigative committee of the State Legislature and a report by Mr. Christie’s own lawyers provided more questions and contradictions than they did answers to the most basic question: What prompted a deputy chief of staff to the governor, a Republican, to send a note calling for “some traffic problems in Fort Lee”?

People close to the case say prosecutors are likely to bring charges based on a rarely used provision of a fraud statute, under which they would argue that Mr. Christie’s associates used the bridge, or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs it, for a purpose other than its intended one. In the case of the bridge, the closings were apparently meant to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, a Democrat, after he declined to endorse the governor’s re-election bid in 2013.

What is less certain is whether prosecutors will find crimes in the other ways Mr. Christie used his powers in the service of political ambition. He used Port Authority money to fill holes in his budget; his lieutenants doled out flags and steel from the remnants of the World Trade Center to woo mayors whose endorsements they sought. An office of “intergovernmental affairs” worked to cultivate endorsements, all in the hopes that the governor could use a huge winning margin to argue that he was the Republican most likely to win the White House in 2016.

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Panel: Christie Not Involved in Bridgegate Closures

AP-CHRIS-CHRISTIE-PHOTO-MATT-ROURKE-940X540

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not involved in the “Bridgegate” lane closures meant to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse his candidacy for a second term as governor, a new investigation has found.

The controversy continues despite the apparent exoneration, however, with legislative Republicans saying Democrats used the investigation to try to harm Christie’s nascent presidential candidacy, the New York Daily News reports.
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Chris Christie, Complaining of Leaks, Says “Bridgegate” Investigation Should End

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday it was time for a state legislative committee to end its investigation into the so-called “Bridgegate” controversy, saying the committee had leaked information designed to embarrass him without uncovering information he had committed wrongdoing.

“I’ve known all along that this has been a partisan pursuit,” Christie said, “and the leaking that’s being done by the legislative committee is just further evidence to the fact that this is a partisan pursuit.”
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Chris Christie Somehow Involved in Second Bridge Scandal

AP Photo | Mel Evans

AP Photo | Mel Evans

Chris Christie is being investigated in a second bridge scandal, according to a report from the New York Times. The investigation — which the Times sourced to “people briefed on the matter” — centers on renovations to the Pulaski Skyway.

The Skyway, which opened in 1932, is notoriously unreliable. (“Unpredictable traffic congestion and its functionally obsolete design makes the Skyway one of the most unreliable roads in the United States,” Wikipedia helpfully notes.) The bridge closed to Northbound traffic as part of a massive overhaul in April. In 2010 and 2011, Christie wanted to use Port Authority money for repairs on the obsolete bridge. The problem? The Port Authority doesn’t own the bridge, the state does, and so it couldn’t.

But Christie persisted, and the authority justified the use of the money by calling the Skyway an access route to the Lincoln Tunnel. The Skyway actually connects to the Holland Tunnel, which is not eligible for Port Authority funds. The money for Skyway repairs was coming from the $3 billion in Port Authority money freed up when Christie killed the ARC trans-Hudson tunnel project in 2010.

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Christie Aide Denies Role in Bridgegate Closure

[Update 1:30 pm] The Inquirer reports:

Gov. Christie’s chief of staff testified today before the legislative panel probing the George Washington Bridge lane closures that he had nothing to do with the controversy.

Kevin O’Dowd said he wanted to start the hearing “by making very clear to the committee that I had no prior knowledge of, or played no role in, the decision to close the lanes at the bridge last September.”

[Original] The Wall Street Journal reports that today could be a make-or-break day for the investigations into the Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey. Kevin O’Dowd, chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, has been subpoenaed to testify. His words may well decide where or how the investigations proceed from here.

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Bridgegate: Christie Chief of State Subpoenaed

“Gov. Chris Christie’s chief of staff has been ordered to appear before a legislative panel investigating lane closures at the George Washington Bridge,” AP reports. Kevin O’Dowd is expected to appear Monday, where he’ll be asked whether he and Christie spoke about the scandal last December.

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