Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee issued a statement Thursday hours after attorneys for the office of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released their internal review of the allegations surrounding last September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge and the administration’s distribution of Hurricane Sandy aid. Elleithee criticised the review, which found the governor was not involved in any wrongdoing, as a waste of public funds.
“Chris Christie spent a million taxpayer dollars in an effort to clear himself of wrongdoing. But what did we actually learn today? Not much,” Elleithee said.
The attorneys from the firm of Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher that conducted the review received over $US1 million in fees that were paid by New Jersey taxpayers. In their report, the lawyers said they reviewed over “250,000 documents” and interviewed “more than 70 witnesses.” However, Elleithee said the report included “no real evidence.”
“What we didn’t get for that hefty price tag to New Jersey taxpayers were any interviews with the key figures who executed the plan or any insight into why this happened,” said Elleithee. “There was no real evidence, no real findings, no real answers, and definitely no exoneration. This report was nothing more than an expensive sham.”
Some Democrats have alleged last September’s lane closures, which led to days of traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. were an attempt by Christie’s allies to retaliate against a mayor who declined to endorse the Governor’s re-election bid.
The report found allegations made by Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer in January that officials in the Christie administration threatened to withhold Sandy relief from her city unless she approved a real estate project were “demonstratably false.” However, it concluded Christie’s former deputy chief of staff and David Wildstein, an ex-official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the George Washington Bridge, “knowingly participated” in a scheme to “target” Fort Lee’s mayor by shutting the lanes.
Elleithee dismissed these findings as having already come out during the course of the ongoing investigation into the closures.
“For a million taxpayer dollars, we heard a lot of things that we already knew — that there was a troubling culture in Christie’s office that led to the lane closures. That there was a months-long cover-up by close Christie aides and allies. That Christie’s office broke the public trust. That Christie denied involvement, despite claims from David Wildstein to the contrary. That the Christie practice of bullying and attacking those who challenge him and scrutinize his administration continues,” said Elleithee.
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