Was Bridgegate Really About the Mayor of Fort Lee?

Why did Chris Christie’s staff shut down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in August? The working theory is that it was retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse Christie for reelection. This has never really made sense, though. The guy was a Democrat and Christie was cruising to victory. As both the mayor and Christie himself have pointed out, no one would care if he decided not to endorse Christie.

So Rachel Maddow and Steve Benen offer up another theory today. Last year Christie was in a long-running battle with Democrats over his appointees to the state Supreme Court, and in August Christie decided to remove a justice from the court rather than submit her to renomination to Senate Democrats:

The governor, enraged, held a press conference to tell reporters, “I was not going to let her loose to the animals.”

The “animals,” in this case, were the Democrats in the state Senate.

Christie said that on the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2013.

On the morning of Aug. 13, 2013, Christie’s deputy chief of staff told the governor’s guy at the Port Authority, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The leader of the Senate Democrats at the time was a senator from … Fort Lee.

This is just speculation, of course, so take it for what it’s worth. Dave Weigel, for example, points out that the Democratic leader of the state Senate was “utterly safe at re-election,” so retaliating against her seems kind of pointless too. Maybe so. But for now, speculation is all we have. The whole story about retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee has always been pretty wacky, so now that we know for sure that retaliation of some sort really did take place, it’s only natural to scratch our heads and start trying to figure out if maybe something else was going on. This is as good a guess as any.

Here’s the video:


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.