Sarah Gonzalez, Reporter, WNYC/NJPR
Sarah Gonzalez is the northern New Jersey enterprise reporter for WNYC and NJPR.
A former Port Authority official says he has evidence Gov. Christie knew of the George Washington Bridge lane closures in September.
A letter released by David Wildstein's lawyer (see below) says "evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference."
Wildstein's lawyer wrote the letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asking the bi-state agency to reconsider covering the costs of Wildstein's legal representation in connection with the lane closures.
"I request that you kindly reconsider the Port Authority's decision to deny Mr. Wildstein payment of his legal fees and indemnification. I would also request that the Port Authority pay for legal fees of Mr. Wildstein and indemnify him for any civil lawsuits that are instituted against the Port Authority where Mr. Wildstein is named or any proceedings in which Mr. Wildstein is a party or a person under investigation as a result of conduct occurring while he was employed by the Port Authority."
Gov. Christie's office has released this statement in response to Wildstein's letter:
"Mr. Wildstein's lawyer confirms what the Governor has said all along - he had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein's motivations were for closing them to begin with. As the Governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th. The Governor denies Mr. Wildstein's lawyer's other assertions."
Earlier this month, the Democratic President of New Jersey's State Senate, Steve Sweeney told WNYC's Brian Lehrer that demonstrative proof that Christie knew of the lane closures could be grounds for impeachment of the Republican Governor.
"If there is a direct connection the Governor had knowledge or the Governor was directing it, well then obviously that would cause that," Sweeney said.
A spokesperson for Sweeney says the Senate president is "not commenting for now" on the claims laid out in the letter from Wildstein's lawyer.
Sweeney is third in line for the Governor's office, after the lieutenant governor, who has been accused of threatening Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer to approve a development project in exchange for federal Sandy relief aid.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has denied the allegation.
Previously released documents indicate Wildstein was the Port Authority official who ordered the lane closures, seemingly as an act of political retaliation directed at Fort Lee's mayor.
Wildstein was hired to control the George Washington Bridge in 2010. He has been an ally of the Governor but stepped down from the Port Authority amid the lane closure controversy.
On Friday evening, two Democratic state lawmakers who are spearheading the investigation into the Christie Administration, released a statement saying they have read the letter from Wildstein's attorney. Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said they will consider the letter as the investigation continues.