By Dan Schwalb
New Jersey might just have itself a conspiracy theory. New details have emerged about “Bridgegate,” the scandal surrounding Governor Chris Christie and his involvement in blockading the George Washington Bridge. When the scandal first arose last winter, Christie was accused of closing bridge lanes to get political revenge on Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee. Sokolich is rumored to have angered Christie after he did not endorse the governor in his relection. Christie immediately denied these accusations of revenge, claiming he had not known about the closings. Shortly after, Christie fired two of his close political associates, saying they were responsible. By springtime, the Bridgegate scandal died down, and was out of the public eye.
But Bridgegate is back with new plot twists, and radio station NJ 101.5 has covered the latest developments. A man named Bill Stepien was one of the two political associates that Christie had fired, and given blame to. Recently, Stepien was hired by GOPAC, a non-profit organization that assists the Republic party. The fishy part about this hiring is that leaders of GOPAC have close connections with Christie. The question arises; why would GOPAC hire a man that Christie fired, and had allegedly been responsible for the bridge closings? Many speculate that Stepien took blame for Bridgegate to cover for Christie; and in return Christie helped him get a job with his friends at GOPAC.
NJ 101.5 also spoke about a second Bridgegate story, which has added further suspicion to the scandal. A Port Authority cop, Steve Pisciotta, says that on the day of the GWB closings, he was told to “shut up” when trying to help the traffic problems. Pisciotta called for the lanes to be reopened, but his boss immediately came over radio and told him to keep quiet. Later, this boss told Pisciotta that his actions were “unacceptable”, and that he should never speak of the situation again.
This account from Pisciotta has people further convinced that Christie was responsible. New questions are being asked, such as why a police captain would tell his cop to “shut up” about a major problem on the GWB. Many are convinced that the captain had taken orders from someone more powerful, like the governor. New Jersey officials have yet to comment on the claims from Pisciotta.
The Christie Administration has been working hard to minimize the scandal. Christie has hired a law firm to clean up accusation against him, and is paying the firm $8 million. New Jersey residents are angered that their hard-earned tax money is being used to fund Christie’s lawyers (and possible cover up). For now, these latest accusations against the governor are conspiracy theories. But for how long?