Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), long a vocal critic of the state legislature’s investigation into ‘Bridgegate’, the scandal surrounding the closing of commuter lanes at the George Washington Bridge late last year, said he still isn’t sure the controversy’s latest developments reaffirm any legitimate wrongdoing on the part of officials close to the operation, including Gov. Chris Christie.
Bramnick made his comments during a press conference with Republican officials from Middlesex County yesterday afternoon at Glopak Corp, a plastic bag manufacturer located in South Plainfield whose facility he visited on the latest leg of his “Real Talk to Restore Fiscal Sanity” tour.
“We’re not here to talk about Bridgegate but I’m not even sure I understand the allegation,” Bramnick said after PolitickerNJ asked him whether the latest claims — that police officers in Fort Lee may have been told to keep quite about the apparently secret lane closing operation — ought to be taken seriously. “You mean that some police officer’s said ‘don’t say anything?’ You know, here’s the bottom line — they have not shown any evidence whatsoever that the governor of this state had anything to do with closing those lanes.”
Earlier this week, the Bergen Record reported how a rank-and-file officer stationed at a gridlocked intersection on Sept. 9 was told to “shut up” by the bridge’s highest-ranking officer when the former raised concerns over “hazardous conditions” on Fort Lee’s streets. According to the report, the exchange was included in a summary of the recollections of nearly a dozen rank-and-file police officers and provide “vivid” new details about how the operation — long thought to be politically motivated but defended by top officials in Gov. Chris Christie’s cabinet as a traffic study –was put into effect.
It’s the latest news to come out of Bridgegate, a scandal that has dogged Christie over the last several months as he continues to test the waters of a 2016 presidential primary bid. Ongoing investigations into the controversy — by both the Record, the state legislature under the Select Committee on Investigations (SCI) led by Assemblyman John Wisniewski and state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, and the U.S. Attorney General’s office — have slowed in recent weeks but are back in headlines following the latest reports.
Reiterating earlier positions he’s taken toward the investigations, yesterday Bramnick waved the new allegations off as unfounded. He also reamed Wisnieswki — whose own committee rekindled interest over the subject last week after it subpoenaed the cell service provider AT&T for texts messages exchanged between Christie and his incoming Chief of Staff, Regina Egea — for hijacking the scandal for his own gain.
Egea was Director of Authorities under Christie during the lane closings, and at a SCI hearing last month she told committee members that she had deleted a text message between her and the governor about testimony given last year by officials at the Port Authority.
“I understand that when you get that popular, and when you’re a national figure, and you’re at 60 percent in the polls, the people who are against you are really against you,” Bramnick said of Christie before tearing into Wisniewski, who on Tuesday called the latest reports “troubling.”
“So here, they’ve shown nothing against the governor, and he’s denied any involvement. Look, I know that John Wisniewski loves the camera, I know whatever he came up with recently gets him back in the news,” Bramnick added. “It’s time to allow prosecutors to do what they do, and end the Wizgate investigation until the federal and state governments finish their investigations. John Wisniewski loves being in front of that camera, but he’s never going to be Chris Christie.