Mayors considered unfriendly to Gov. Chris Christie were treated less favorably than his allies by staffers inside his office, many of whom moonlighted on his re-election campaign, according to a trove of internal interviews released Monday.Right off the bat, two observations:
A top liaison between Christie and local officials, Christina Renna, told attorneys reviewing the governor’s office in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal that her staff would receive "mandatory directives" to brush off calls.
- Obviously, this lends weight to the notion that the lane closures were part of a payback scheme against Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election and goes a long way to establishing the organizational culture that allowed such behavior to take place.
- It's no wonder that the
investigatorswhitewashers waited to reveal these details, but it's pretty telling that even in a biased investigation, facts like these were impossible to contain.
The revelation that Christie aides were told how to treat mayors that didn't support him is the biggest item to emerge from yesterday's document dump, but it wasn't the only item. A couple of other ones were particularly interesting, including the fact that when the firm that conducted the investigation interviewed Christie, one of the three lawyers who conducted the interview was a longtime friend of Christie's. When Randy Mastro, the attorney who led the investigation, released the initial report he went to great lengths to make it clear that he had never met Christie before the investigation; somehow, he neglected to mention that one of Christie's very close personal friends was intimately involved in it.
Moreover, writes the Star-Ledger, last November Christie's chief counsel helped former Port Authority Official Bill Baroni prepare testimony to the state legislature in which Baroni dismissed the lane closures as nothing but a traffic study. No matter how you look at it, that's yet another example of Christie's inner circle playing a role in trying to cover up the scandal. The only question now is whether they were incompetent rubes mislead by devious underlings or whether they knew all along that something rotten was going on.