Christie denies bridge lane closure was political retribution
Gov. Chris Christie has accepted the resignation of one of his top political appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Bill Baroni resigned as deputy executive director because of the distraction caused by an investigation into the temporary closure of some local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September, the governor said Friday.
Christie said he did not instruct anyone to close lanes to get back at the Mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing his re-election campaign.
"He was not somebody that was on my radar screen in any way, politically, professionally, or in any other way until these stories came out in the aftermath of the closing," Christie said. "So the answer is absolutely unequivocally not."
Christie also says a report that he called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to urge an end to the investigation of the lane closures is wrong. Christie says he and Cuomo never had such a conversation.
Baroni accepted responsibility for not following proper protocols in closing the lanes for a traffic study and notifying local officials about it, the governor said.
"They believed the traffic study needed to be done but that they didn't do it appropriately or correctly within the protocols of the Port Authority and give the appropriate notices," Christie said. "I never said that a mistake wasn't made but what I said was that all of the other politics swirling around it was created and manufactured."
Baroni's replacement at the Port Authority will be Christie's deputy chief of staff, Deborah Gramiccioni.