Share This Page

New Jersey Gov. Christie appointee quits amid probe of bridge traffic jam

| Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 6:21 p.m.
Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) walk on the boardwalk at Point Pleasant in New Jersey, May 28, 2013. Obama and Christie teamed up again to tour areas damaged by last year's Hurricane Sandy, giving a boost to a Democratic president enmeshed in scandals at home. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie announced the resignation on Friday of one of his top appointees amid an escalating probe into whether Christie loyalists deliberately caused traffic jams at a bridge into New York City in an act of political retribution. The governor denied the lane closings were politically motivated.

The resignation of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey deputy executive director Bill Baroni occurs a day after a state lawmaker issued seven subpoenas to Baroni and other agency officials and the Democratic National Committee tried to link the controversy to Christie, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

Christie, who is shuffling some staff positions as he begins his second term, painted Baroni's departure from a plum appointment as an expected move, though he acknowledged the questions about a bridge delay cause a distraction.

“Sen. Baroni offered his resignation and I accepted it, but this wasn't something I hadn't planned already,” the governor said.

Baroni is a former Republican state senator and insider who was state chairman of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and has been Christie's top deputy at the bistate agency for four years.

The new deputy executive director, Deborah Gramiccioni, has a long history of working with Christie, both in the U.S. Attorney's Office and in his administration. She also worked in the Justice Department in Washington.

The issue at play involves the George Washington Bridge, one of the world's most heavily traveled spans. The town on the New Jersey side of the bridge is Fort Lee, whose Democratic mayor did not endorse Christie in his re-election campaign last month. While Christie is a Republican, his campaign focused heavily on bipartisan support to bolster his image as a pragmatic executive who will work with his political opponents when he needs to.

On Sept. 9, two of the three local-access lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge's upper level were closed without warning. Officials at the Port Authority, which operates the bridge, said the closures were for a traffic pattern study.

Christie said on Friday that he believes that version of events.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.