NJ Politics Digest: Prosecutors Not Interested in Pursuing Christie

7. Bridgegate. Samson’s guilty plea was the opening act for one of the most-covered political stories of 2016 in New Jersey: the Bridgegate trial. In that case, two Christie appointees (former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly) were found guilty on nine counts of conspiracy and related charges for misusing Port Authority property as a way to enact political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie for re-election in 2013. While the closures happened three years ago in 2013, the trial renewed public interest and attention on the case. Now, the case is in limbo as defendants pursue a re-trail or acquittal.

The George Washington Bridge closures were at the center of the Bridgegate trial. John Moore/Getty Images

It’s the end of the week, and apparently the end of the road for a citizen’s complaint against Gov. Chris Christie as the Bergen County Prosecutors Office – overseen by a Christie appointee – has said that evidence in the trial of two Christie associates convicted in federal court for the Bridgegate scandal isn’t enough to warrant pursuing a state case against the governor. Christie on Thursday was busy helping the son of New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon to open his new business, a rehab center.

Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are urging a two-year jail term for another Christie associate who used his position at the Port Authority to shakedown a major airline.

A new state report shows that in the same year that Christie and state legislators agreed to a large hike in the state gas tax, lobbying for transportation projects helped push lobbying expenditures in the state to $68.3 million.

Quote of the Day: “If the only thing you have to prove is that he knew, and everybody in the federal trial testified that he knew, why is that not enough?” – Bill Brennan, who filed a misconduct complaint against Gov. Chris Christie, on Bergen County prosecutors’ decision not to pursue the case.

Christie will not be charged in GWB case, prosecutor says
Gov. Chris Christie will not be charged over the George Washington Bridge lane closures, Bergen County prosecutors announced Thursday, citing a lack of evidence.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Feds: Former Port Authority head not entitled to ‘get out of jail card’
Federal prosecutors say despite his age and serious health problems, former Port Authority chairman David Samson deserves to go to prison for abusing his position in the shakedown of one of the nation’s largest airlines.
NJ.com Read more

Acquittal, new trial rejected in Bridgegate case
A federal judge has denied an appeal by two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie who were convicted of a political conspiracy to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Christie Sets Terms For 2017 Race
Lest there be any mistake, Gov. Chris Christie forced the hands of those wishing to succeed him, while guaranteeing that the dominant issue in their campaigns would be their proposals to restructure the formula by which the state appropriates aid to local school districts.
Carl Golden, NJSpotlight Read more

Mystery swirls as Port Authority cancels meeting
In an unusual move, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has canceled a board meeting scheduled for later this month.
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Press association releases legal ad costs disputing governor
The New Jersey Press Association has told legislative leaders that it estimates newspapers across the state took in nearly $32.3 million in revenue last year to run legal ads required by law, NJ Advance Media has learned.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

NJ Congress members weigh in on Russian ambassador controversy
Several New Jersey Congress members joined the conversation Thursday as controversy swirled around Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Some called for Sessions to resign, while others called for him to recuse himself from any probe into Russian efforts to influence the presidential election, which he later did. Here’s what the Congress members from New Jersey had to say:
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Christie helps N.J. Supreme Court justice’s once-addicted son open rehab center
New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon on Thursday tried to describe before a packed room the hopelessness and despair a parent feels when dealing with a child battling drug addiction.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Prosecutor’s office breaks record by burning 3,280 lbs. of pills
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office burned 3,280 pounds of prescription pills March 1, bringing the county’s total amount of burned medications to 22,380 pounds since Project Medicine Drop began in 2014, according to a statement.
Katie Park, Asbury Park Press Read more

Hard Rock purchase of Trump Taj Mahal another chapter in its NJ forays
The Hard Rock Café has been an Atlantic City fixture at Trump Taj Mahal since 1996, but Hard Rock International has also flirted with being a gambling entity on and off for two decades as well.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

CEO: Hard Rock still wants casino near NYC after Taj Mahal
The company that bought Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino still wants to build a $1 billion casino in northern New Jersey just outside New York City.
Associated Press Read more

Transportation groups push lobbying spending to $68.3M
A new state report shows groups pulling for a transportation infrastructure plan helped push New Jersey lobbying expenditures in 2016 to $68.3 million.
Associated Press Read more

Hoops scandal ‘just tip of iceberg,’ senator says in demanding probe
Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) formally called on state Attorney General Christopher Porrino Thursday to investigate the actions of the Paterson Eastside High Schools boys and girls basketball teams, which have been embroiled in controversy surrounding an influx of international and overseas players to the programs.
Matthew Stanmyre and Steve Politi, NJ.com Read more

Major college projects still waiting on money voters OK’d years ago
More than four years since New Jersey voters approved a $750 million bond issue for upgrades at New Jersey colleges and universities, the ball is rolling on the final $34.2 million that would assist with projects at more than a dozen higher education institutions.
Dino Flammia, NJ101.5 Read more

Budget Plan Bumps Lead Funding Up to $20m
Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget for the next fiscal year beginning in July will invest $20 million to address the continuing problem posed by thousands of New Jersey children with unsafe levels of lead in their blood.
Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight Read more

Memorial service set for ex-transportation chief Jamie Fox
A public memorial service for former New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox has been set for 3 p.m. Monday, March 6, at Grounds for Sculpture Museum, 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, N.J., according to organizers.
Ashleigh Albert, Inquirer Read more

Troopers injured in Route 80 crash
Two New Jersey State Troopers were involved in a serious motor-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon on westbound Route 80 in Knowlton.
William Westhoven, Daily Record Read more

Sandy homeowners must file for foreclosure stay by June
Homeowners who want to take advantage of a new law to protect Sandy victims from foreclosure will have to act quickly.
Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press Read more

New Jersey Area Rising Around Transit Hub Lacks One Thing: Its Hub
All the ingredients for a bustling downtown transit hub here are coming together: new townhouses, restaurants and big-box stores sit just off the busiest rail corridor in the country, as trains whiz by every 10 minutes or so. Bulldozers, backhoes and scattered mounds of dirt offer evidence of more to come. A large banner over a nearby highway with an illustration of a train declares: “Shop. Dine. Ride. Live.”
New York Times Read more

Red Bank Charter School gets 5-year renewal amid investigation
Red Bank Charter School will continue to serve students in the borough after the state Department of Education renewed its charter for another five years, even as the the school is under a federal civil rights investigation into its enrollment practices.
Payton Guion, Asbury Park Press Read more

Potential litigation, but few answers in case of Camden charter school directed to close
A day after the state directed the closure of the Camden Community Charter School, relatives picking up children Thursday had not yet heard of the decision.
Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Read more

Webber World: the Machinations of GOP and Personal Perspective Politics in Fiery LD26
In the Akira Kurosawa masterpiece Rashomon, everyone has a different recollection of a critical life event.
Max Pizarro, InsiderNJ Read more

N.J. councilman to face trial in bribery, misconduct case
A Bloomfield councilman reportedly has rejected a final plea offer from prosecutors in a bribery case brought by the state Office of Attorney General, instead opting to take his chances at trial this spring.
Thomas Moriarty, NJ.com Read more

Brick mayor concedes role in super’s misconduct probe
Mayor John Ducey on Tuesday denied a report that a criminal misconduct investigation into suspended Schools Superintendent Walter Uszenski started with a conversation he had with the Ocean County prosecutor about the school chief’s grandson being driven to private day care on a public school bus.
Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park Press Read more

Small to Enter Atlantic City Mayor’s Race on Monday
Atlantic City Council President Marty Small will kick off his mayoral bid on Monday with his council candidates: Derek K. Cason, Bruce E. Weeks and Lamont Fauntleroy.
InsiderNJ Read more

Judge hears Teaneck lawsuit against resident
There was no decision Wednesday in a case before a Superior Court judge involving a petition by Teaneck Township to bar a resident from filing public records requests.
Megan Burrow, The Record Read more

Local politicians weigh in on stalled American Dream
The state senator representing the Meadowlands district said he may sponsor a resolution urging the developer of the American Dream Meadowlands project to either resume construction or allow the state to consider finding an alternative project at the site.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

Longtime Ridgefield Park commissioner quits in anger
A longtime Ridgefield Park commissioner resigned in anger on Tuesday after she was questioned about how the town paid the auditor.
Cheryl O’Brien and Keldy Ortiz, The Record Read more

Bloomfield sets salary for new hire to help in planning
Bloomfield Township is looking for help with redevelopment and hopes to hire someone for the purpose.
Matt Kadosh, The Record Read more

Editorial: No special treatment for David Samson
David Samson’s fall from power is almost mythic. A former state attorney general, founder of one of New Jersey’s most powerful law firms, and a former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he is now also an admitted felon. His former stature and advanced age have no bearing on his guilt and should have no bearing on his sentencing.
The Record Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Prosecutors Not Interested in Pursuing Christie