New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is reportedly ensnared in another bridge-related investigation, this time for the $1.8 billion funding to repair the Pulaski Skyway, which connects Newark and Jersey City. According to the New York Times, a probe launched by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Christie’s administration misled bond holders to obtain the money for the project. Ironically, this new bridge investigation was spun-off from the ongoing investigation into Bridgegate.
The potential securities law violations, writes the Times, stem from 2010 and 2011 documents wherein Christie’s office demands the Port Authority pay for repairs to the Pulaski Skyway—namely using money originally earmarked for a new Hudson River tunnel, a project that was cancelled. But according to the Times, that money couldn’t be used for the project:
Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency’s purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.
But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected.
Though it would appear that the Port Authority and Christie’s office were able to use creative, maybe even deceptive, naming to use the money anyway, possibly to their detriment:
In bond documents describing the Skyway reconstruction and other repairs, the Port Authority has called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements.”
The accuracy of this characterization is now a major focus of the investigations, according to several people briefed on the matter. Under a New York State law known as the Martin Act, prosecutors can bring felony charges for intentionally deceiving bond holders, without having to prove any intent to defraud or even establish that any fraud occurred.
[Image via AP]