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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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.

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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 »

Christie’s Presidential Climb Gets Steeper

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Chris Christie’s not-quite-formal presidential campaign is finding its pathway to winning election just a little steeper every day. The latest bad news comes from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

“Only 32 percent of Republican voters said they could see themselves supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, versus 57 percent who could not,” NBC News reports. Read more »

NYT: Christie Losing Presidential Momentum

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Chris Christie’s nascent presidential campaign is losing momentum before it’s even formally announced, the New York Times says today. The result? Big-money donors are turning instead to rival candidates, like Jeb Bush, to support.

Policy advisers, donors and even a prominent New Jersey state senator who met his wife through Mr. Christie have all flirted with or committed to rival candidates. One potential donor, Woody Johnson, the billionaire owner of the New York Jets, will back Jeb Bush, according to three people close to the Bush campaign. Mr. Johnson attended a round of Bush fund-raising events on Wednesday in Chicago, where the former Florida governor acknowledged him by name.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Christie’s negative ratings in some opinion polls are higher than his favorable ones. He has been slower than Mr. Bush to lock down support within the Republican Party’s pool of big-name “bundlers,” and it is unclear how quickly Mr. Christie is amassing cash. A spokesman declined to say, or even provide a range for, how much money the governor’s leadership political action committee has raised.

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