New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received a probable cause criminal summons Thursday regarding the closing of the George Washington Bridge in 2013 allegedly as punishment to Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, for not endorsing the governor, NBCNewYork reported on Thursday.
Christie is an ex-officio trustee of the University.
The summons comes after The New York Times recently reported that Christie allegedly knew about the shut-down lanes prior to the incident occurring. The shutdown wreaked havoc on New Jersey-New York traffic flow, causing hours of delays.
Activist Bill Brennan filed a complaint against Christie citing official misconduct a few weeks ago over the lane closures. The New York Post wrote that two Christie aides are currently on trial for their involvement in the lane closings.
New Jersey Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady allowed the official misconduct complaint to go forward, meaning that the case will move to Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Christie has not yet been indicted.
Christie has recently denied any involvement in what’s been named “Bridgegate,” and he has fired the aides and political appointees who were directly involved.
“This is a dishonorable complaint filed by a known serial complainant and political activist with a history of abusing the judicial system,” Brian Murray, the governor’s press secretary, wrote in an email.
“If he’s indicted it could get worse,” Woodrow Wilson School Professor Stanley Katz said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is really serious because even the current proceeding is terribly damaging and the more that comes out is terribly damaging but it’s reputational damage.”
Katz said he does not know what the odds are, but he does not think indictment is likely. However, even without an indictment, this summons ties Christie closer to the “damage from Bridgegate,” according to Katz.
“If he was convicted, he would be disbarred and he couldn’t practice law,” Katz said. “That would be a crushing blow, I think ... When you bring criminal charges against a lawyer it can be particularly devastating.”
“The simple fact is the Governor had no knowledge of the lane realignments either before they happened or while they were happening,” Murray said. “This matter has already been thoroughly investigated by three separate independent investigations. The ruling is being appealed immediately.”
Katz said that there could be an irresponsible official who threatens to bring a charge but it is difficult to indict a sitting lawyer.
“Nobody likes to be indicted but politicians particularly don’t like to be indicted,” Katz said.
Christie was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and has endorsed Republican nominee Donald Trump for president.
Christie has served two terms and is term limited in 2017.
Politics Professor Nolan McCarty declined to comment on these events. Politics Professor Robert George did not respond to request for comment. Rutgers law professor Allan Stein also declined a request for comment.