As a blogger whose site is inspired by the look and lore of the George Washington Bridge, aka the Great Gray Bridge, I immediately began following with great interest the political scandal involved in the mysterious closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. In the month since I first posted about it, the episode has mushroomed in to a full-blown scandal, especially with yesterday’s revelations that aides close to Chris Christie deliberately targeted the mayor of Fort Lee for petty political retribution. In light of this news, I am urging all visitors to The Great Gray Bridge to read this October 10, 2013 story by the New York Times’ Michael Powell, which chronicles the quashing of a lesser-known criminal case against a close Christie ally. Like #GWBridgeGate, this story deserved much more attention before New Jersey voters chose their next governor last November, but that didn’t happen. Again, as with #GWBridgeGate, Powell’s story should be much more widely read and shared, as evidence of the climate of casual and criminal corruption surrounding Chris Christie and his administration. Below is the opening from Powell’s lengthy article. You may read it all here.
“Prosecutors sent tremors through rural Hunterdon County when they announced a sweeping indictment of the local Republican sheriff and her two deputies in 2010. The 43-count grand jury indictment read like a primer in small-town abuse of power. It accused Sheriff Deborah Trout of hiring deputies without conducting proper background checks, and making employees sign loyalty oaths. Her deputies, the indictment charged, threatened one of their critics and manufactured fake police badges for a prominent donor to Gov. Chris Christie. When the charges became public, the indicted undersheriff, Michael Russo, shrugged it off. Governor Christie, he assured an aide, would ‘have this whole thing thrown out,’ according to The Hunterdon County Democrat. That sounded like bluster. Then the state killed the case. On the day the indictment was unsealed, the state attorney general, a Christie appointee, took over the Hunterdon prosecutor’s office. Within a few months, three of its most respected veterans lost their jobs there, including the one who led the case.”
Powell also reports that one of the prosecutors unfairly dismissed in the case, Bennett A. Bailyn, “has filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the attorney general killed the indictment to protect prominent supporters of the governor.” With the GWB scandal growing bigger by the week, it’ll be fascinating to see if Bailyn’s case can advance through the courts so he can get justice and the public can learn more about this troubling incident.
Please read Powell’s article and share it in your social networks.