Chris Christie sued by New Jersey residents over bridge scandal
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being sued by six residents over claims his office created gridlock on to the George Washington Bridge as part of a political vendetta.
The traffic mayhem was allegedly instigated in revenge against a mayor who declined to endorse Chris Christie.
Lawyer Rosemarie Arnold, who filed the lawsuit, said her clients were late for work and one had a panic attack.
State legislators plan to release on Friday nearly 1,000 pages relating to their probe of the incident.
Chris Christie, seen as a potential future Republican presidential candidate, has said he is “embarrassed and humiliated” by the incident and has denied any involvement, blaming “deceitful” staff.
He announced he had fired a top aide on Thursday after documents apparently showing her engineering the traffic problems became public a day earlier.
On September 9, two traffic lanes in the borough of Fort Lee on to the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan, were shut for several days, causing gridlock.
Emails and texts made public on Wednesday appear to link Bridget Anne Kelly, a top Chris Christie aide, to the move.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly wrote on August 13 to David Wildstein, a political appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.
“Got it,” David Wildstein, who has since resigned, replied.
David Wildstein refused to testify on Thursday in a hearing investigating the matter.
The lawsuit filed, which seeks class-action status, calls for unspecified damages for those who were late to work because of the lane closures and lost pay.
The plaintiffs accuse Chris Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, David Wildstein and the Port Authority of conspiring and committing “acts of official misconduct”, then covering it up with a “fictional traffic study”.
It claims the residents “suffered economic damages” as a result of the delays.
In a lengthy press conference on Thursday, Chris Christie said he was “heartbroken that someone who I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the last five years betrayed my trust”.
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