This is a grab-bag of stuff, compiled rapidly...
The Hoboken thing. Brian Murphy
, writing in TPM...
This morning on his MSNBC show Steve Kornacki discussed reporting he and I (and producer Jack Bohrer) did showing that those federal Hurricane Sandy funds have not been monitored by the Christie Administration as required by a law that Christie himself signed last March. Furthermore, relief funds have been extremely hard to account for because Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a single website to track Sandy funding and contract information. Based on the reactions of two congressmen who watched the report with me, officials in Washington will be loath to trust Christie with the next round of federal funds and we should not be surprised if an investigation is on the horizon.
Sounds to me like the problem could go way beyond Hoboken.
The bridge thing.
Also from Murphy:
Yet there’s a reason David Wildstein is seeking legal immunity and reimbursement for his legal bills: the order to close those lanes – the motive – seems to have come from Trenton.
The Wally Edge thing:
And here we get to the heart of the matter. David Wildstein was put in the Port Authority by Chris Christie, in a job Christie invented, to be the governor’s eyes and ears – his enforcer. Wildstein was put at the Port so Christie could more effectively use the Port as an extension of his political operation (as Steve and I are documenting, more and more, with each passing week).
So spare us the shock that Wildstein is “a political animal.” Christie knew who Wildstein was before he appointed him to this job. There is no sense in distancing yourself from one of your own appointees who was given a job specifically because his skills matched what you were looking to accomplish with that appointment.
Murphy goes on to discuss Wildstein's alter-ego, NJ blogger "Wally Edge." (Wildstein "came out" as Edge in 2010; before then, it was all a big secret.) Christie now seems to think that working as an anonymous blogger is a bad, bad thing. But Murphy, who worked for Edge (without knowing his real identity) says that Christie once had a different view...
Almost everyone leaks in political reporting, but some of my biggest scoops came from leaks from Christie’s office, either to Wally or to both of us.
And Chris Christie loved the product of our work.
I'd like to know more about Wildstein's blogging career, if only because I know how rare it is to make actual money as a blogger. His former site, PolitickerNJ
, is part of the NY Observer
website. So the Observer knew all along.
The personal thing. The Daily Beast
has published a piece claiming that Wildstein is a scorned Christie groupie:
What would sting any groupie most would be a disavowal by the adored one that there was any connection between them, most particularly if the adoration goes all the way back to when they were in the same high school...
And the hurt must have been compounded by word that the Port Authority was still considering whether to pay the legal expenses for the executive who was forced so resign along with him, his former boss and Christie appointee, William Baroni.
Getting to the heart of the matter:
For Wildstein’s lawyer, the immediate reason for the letter clearly was to persuade the Port Authority to reverse itself regarding his client’s legal fees. Section XI of the agency’s bylaws does state that the agency “shall provide for the defense of the indemnified party in any civil action or proceeding in any state or federal court arising out of any alleged act or omission which occurred or is alleged in the complaint to have occurred while the individual was acting within the scope of Port Authority employment or duties.”
But saying in the letter that the lane closings were done upon “the Christie administration’s order” does not make that order any more legitimate or any more within the within the rightful scope of Wildstein’s job.
And pointing out that numerous Port Authority officials have ties to Christie does not make Wildstein any more eligible to have his legal bills paid.
If I understand this aright, the implication is that the letter resulted from personal animus. Wildstein feels betrayed. It's personal.
But the letter was written by Wildstein's lawyer. Lawyers are not paid to display fits of anger and resentment. Lawyers are supposed to play it cool.
It's more likely, then, that the real purpose for the letter was not to get reimbursement (how could Wildstein expect to get money after that
letter?) and not simply to express anger. The purpose is to get immunity. Wildstein is signalling that he knows something -- something big.
But immunity deals are preceded by proffers, which means that no deal will be struck unless prosecutors know what they are getting in return.
charge of Christie's complicity simply would not suffice. Wildstein can't get an immunity deal just by dangling a carrot: He actually has to have
The development thing.
Who could have told Baroni to lie? David Samson of the Rockefeller Group seems a likely possibility. He ran the Port Authority and he is close to Christie. Do the bridge scandal and the Hoboken scandal have a point of convergence? Expensive redevelopment deals may be at the heart of both affairs.
In the case of the GW Bridge, the issue may have been the Hudson Lights project. That, of course, has been the Kornacki/Murphy theory. The Rockefeller Group has cut any and all ties to Samson's law firm
Ominous. Maybe the Rockefeller Group has reason to worry about what might come out if Wildstein gets immunity.