New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has faced relentless criticism after emails and texts surfaced suggesting that top aides shuttered lanes on the George Washington Bridge as an act of political revenge, but at least one New York politician has his back.
GOP Congressman Michael Grimm released a statement today praising Mr. Christie after he fired a top aide, arguing that the Republican governor knew nothing about her ploy to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for backing Mr. Christie’s gubernatorial rival.
“Governor Christie demonstrated true leadership and accountability during today’s press conference,” Mr. Grimm declared in a statement. “I have known Governor Christie since he was a United States attorney with a distinguished anti-corruption record and I was an undercover agent working a high-profile public corruption case with his office. I know him to be a man of unquestionable honor and ironclad integrity, and I take him at his word.”
Mr. Christie said at a lengthy press conference today that he was “embarrassed” and “humiliated” about the lane closings and was blindsided by the news. The scandal, political observers say, could undermine the popular governor’s 2016 presidential ambitions, but Mr. Grimm lent his continuing support to Mr. Christie, attacking Democrats for questioning the governor’s integrity.
“In an a time when President Obama and key figures in his administration shamelessly pass the buck and avoid accountability for one massive failure after another, the governor’s swift and immediate action to dismiss those responsible, commit himself to a full vetting of his staff and embrace his responsibility as his state’s chief executive is both uncommon and refreshing,” Mr. Grimm added.
Update (12:44 p.m.): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was not amused by Mr. Grimm’s comments, suggesting the congressman and Mr. Christie could “carpool to federal court together.” (Mr. Grimm occupies a swing district based in Staten Island, and Democrats are hoping illegal fund-raising allegations will sink his electoral prospects.)
“It’s comes as no surprise that Congressman Michael Grimm, who is currently being investigated by the FBI himself, would be the first elected official in the country to come to Chris Christie’s defense,” said Marc Brumer, the Northeast regional press secretary for the DCCC. “Maybe they can they can carpool to federal court together.
“Only Congressman Michael Grimm would use a scandal in another state to try to divert attention from his own scandal-plagued tenure in office. Another day, another desperate attempt by Congressman Grimm to distract New Yorkers from his failed record,” added Mr. Brumer.
Update (2:10 p.m.): The National Republican Campaign Committee hit back at Mr. Grimm’s Democratic opponent, ex-Councilman Domenic Recchia, for writing a letter seeking leniency for an alleged mobster.
“Speaking of traveling to federal court, when Domenic Recchia went there last month to plead leniency for Colombo crime boss Carmine Persico’s mobster son-in-law, did Carmine pay for Domenic to get there in a fully stocked stretch limo?” asked spokesman Ian Prior.
Update (4:12 p.m.): A Recchia spokeswoman noted, “Mr. Recchia didn’t travel to federal court as the NRCC has tried to allege in what is an obvious and pathetic attempt to mislead and distract voters from Michael Grimm’s ongoing ethical problems and federal investigation.”
Additional reporting by Colin Campbell.