Chris Christie: Actually Not Bad at Softball, All Things Considered

Chris Christie batting at the True Blue softball game

Chris Christie bats in the True Blue charity softball game last night at Yankee Stadium. (Associated Press Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Chris Christie played baseball as a kid. He is actually a member of the Little League Baseball Hall of Fame (more due to his notoriety, though his dad said he did hit more than 15 homers in Little League). He was the starting catcher on the Livingston High School baseball team until a transfer student came in and took his spot. (Christie’s family considered legal action but decided against it; Livingston won the state title.)

Last night, Christie played in the True Blue charity softball game at Yankee Stadium, a benefit for three recently slain New York police officers: Brian Moore, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

It is great that baseball is the national pastime, because it means politicians occasionally dress up in baseball uniforms. Baseball players kind of look silly in baseball uniforms, and non-athletes look even sillier. Read more »

(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.

Read more »

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 »

Cowboys Fan Chris Christie Says He’ll Beat Hillary Clinton. In Pennsylvania.

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Chris Christie isn’t even a declared presidential candidate — yet — but he’s already got some fighting words ready for Hillary Clinton.

“If I run, I will beat her,” Christie told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.

Hewitt, sensibly, asked which “blue” states Christie might win back from Democrats to make that happen. Christie’s first answer was automatic: Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has watched him govern New Jersey for more than five years, he said, and is comfortable with his style.

“If I were to run, I think Pennsylvania is a state that is very much in play,” Christie told Hewitt.

Maybe. But the evidence suggests that Clinton already has a head start on Christie in Pennsylvania. Read more »

Chris Christie: Cut Social Security for the Rich

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Chris Christie says he wants to eliminate Social Security benefits for high-income earners, the Wall Street Journal reports.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Gov. Chris Christie called for reduced Social Security benefits for seniors earning over $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67.

“Social Security at its core should be retirement insurance,” Mr. Christie said during his speech before roughly 120 people. “The wealthiest of us don’t need these benefits.”

Time adds:

“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with the people of our country,” Christie will say in a speech at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College Institute of Politics. “I am not.”

The idea could have some appeal — hey, why should Warren Buffett collect a Social Security check when he’s already super-rich? — but three reasons why Christie’s effort might not work all that well: 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.

Read more »

Chris Christie’s Lottery Privatization Is Costing N.J. Millions

Chris Christie | David Shankbone [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Christie | David Shankbone [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

When New Jersey privatized its lottery in 2013, some were celebrating. For Gov. Chris Christie, the upfront $120 million payment from the lottery’s new operators allowed him to close a budget gap; he said the move would save the state millions.

Unions sued to block the deal (and failed), state lawmakers attempted to strip Christie’s right to privatize the lottery (he vetoed the bill) and people pointed out Christie backers had been hired by the winning lottery vendor. Paul Davies, a University of Delaware professor, wrote on this website in 2012 that potential private lottery operators in New Jersey — and Pennsylvania, where Tom Corbett was attempting a failed bid to privatize the lottery — would target poor communities.

The early results were not good: Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group — a joint venture of GTECH Corporation, Scientific Games and, yes, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System — missed its revenue target by $24 million its first year. And this year, the Associated Press reported earlier last week, Northstar is trailing revenue projections by $64 million though seven months of the fiscal year.

Read more »

N.J. Senate Urges Rejection of Christie-Exxon Settlement

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Last week, we told you about Chris Christie’s $225 deal with Exxon to settle a pollution case in which the energy company was accused of doing nearly $9 billion in pollution damage to the state’s wetlands, marshes, and meadows — a deal that even got Jon Stewart steamed.

Turns out he’s not alone.

The New Jersey Senate on Monday passed a resolution asking a judge to reject that settlement as “grossly inappropriate, improper, and inadequate.” Read more »

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