Chris Christie offered a challenge to critics who allege the New Jersey governor created a culture of intimidation that led to so-called “Bridgegate”: Prove it.
The Republican defiantly made his case Thursday at a town hall meeting in Ocean County after an attendee told the governor that his friends and family believe that Christie must have cultivated a toxic environment that allowed such an abuse to take place.
Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. resident Len Ludovico, 71, said he wanted to know what argument he could make to such critics, insisting he knows Christie would not risk his “political career and integrity on something as petty as lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.”
Christie advised the retired high school teacher to argue: “Point to something factually – something that proves that” he created such a culture.
The governor, who once led the GOP pack in the nascent race to become the GOP’s 2016 presidential nominee-then pointed to his record of bipartisan cooperation, which he said includes passing pension and benefits reform, capping property taxes and keeping spending low.
“If, in fact, I created a culture where people were going after each other, then how did we do all these things together with Republicans and Democrats?” Christie asked the crowd of about 500 people at Lake Riviera Middle School.
A Christie-ordered internal review of the September lane closure plot, ordered by some of the governor’s staffers and allies – seemingly for political retribution – cleared the governor of any wrong doing. The bridge plot is still under investigation by federal prosecutors and a state legislative panel. The governor has insisted he had no prior knowledge of the plan and has since fired a top aide and cut ties with one of his chief political advisers.
Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer has also claimed that Christie’s administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless she approved a development project in her town. Christie’s office has denied those claims.
Meanwhile, members of a state legislative panel looking into the scandal have said they may begin to ask witnesses to testify about the lane closures. When asked recently on a local radio program if Christie would testify if asked, the governor replied: “I’m not going to talk about that.”
Read more at MSNBC.COM.