What will Christie say about Port Authority scandal on ‘Ask the Governor?’
It would be a tough topic to avoid.
Gov. Chris Christie's coming into the New Jersey 101.5 studios Wednesday at 7 p.m. for his semi-monthly "Ask the Governor" segment — taking questions from our own Eric Scott as well as callers. It's a bit of outreach that'll take on new dimensions, as Christie's assumed the dual roles of governor and presidential candidate.
But he's doing so on the same day United Airlines CEO Jeffery Smisek is stepping down — a move the company acknowledged is connected to a federal investigation over alleged dealings with close Christie ally David Samson, the the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Alleged Garden State scandals can get a bit confusing. Here's how the dots connect:
- While David Samson was chairman at the Port Authority, United reinstated a money-losing direct flight between Newark and South Carolina, where Samson has a summer home. United was negotating with the Port Authority over projects at the same time.
- After Samson stepped down, the flights abruptly stopped.
- Samson headed Christie's transition team. Christie appointed him chairman of the Port Authority in 2011 — but that job ended with a resignation last year in the wake of "Bridgegate," the politically motivated lane closures of the George Washington Bridge.
It should be noted — all of this is still a few steps removed from the governor himself. Christie hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing in the United Airlines matter, and no one at all has been charged so far.
“Ask the Governor,” starts 7 p.m. Tune into NJ 101.5 or watch the program live on NJ1015.com. Ask your questions by:
- Calling 800-283-1015
- Joining in our live chat at NJ1015.com — The chat will open up at 6:30 and continue through “Ask the Governor.”
- Tweeting your questions to @NJ1015 using the hashtag #AskGov during or ahead of the show. Selected Tweets will be featured on NJ1015.com as well.
And Christie hasn't been implicated in Bridgegate — though people once in his inner circle have. Two former allies of the governor — former Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly — have been indicted in connection with the lane closures. David Wildstein, another former Port Authority executive, pleaded guilty and accused the others, saying the lanes were closed to get back at the Fort Lee mayor for refusing to endorse the governor. Christie has said several times he had no knowledge of the lane closures.
But the resignation does keep alive a multi-pronged scandal as the governor tries to build up an image as a contender for the Republican nomination for the presidency — despite lagging poll numbers and an ever-present spotlight on another contender known for being even blunter than the New Jersey governor. As Christie focuses on the national stage, a very New Jersey-centric bit of trouble-by-association could prove a significant distraction.
What do you think Christie will say Wednesday night? Tell us in the comments below.