New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responded Wednesday to allegations that his office was involved last year in a scheme to punish a local Democratic mayor.
“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge,” the Republican governor said in a prepared statement that has been described as “boilerplate.”
“One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions,” the statement added.
Emails released Wednesday appear to show Christie’s office coordinated with former Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein to jam traffic near the George Washington Bridge in response to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s refusal to support the governor’s re-election efforts.
“How dare you schedule a man-made traffic disaster in my community?” Sokolich said shortly after the communications between Christie’s office and Wildstein were released. “It’s the example of the pettiest and most venomous side of politics.”
“I’m embarrassed for the people that participated in this. I didn’t know whether my reaction should be comical or criminal,” he said.
Sokolich was one of a handful of New Jersey politicians who refused to back Christie in 2013 against Democrat challenger Barbara Buono.
The governor’s initial response to news of the released emails, which were obtained by a subpoena from a New Jersey State Assembly committee, was to cancel all scheduled events for the day.
The statement his office eventually put together, which claims without any “wiggle room” that the governor was 100 percent unaware of the alleged coordination with Wildstein, was released late Wednesday afternoon.
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This post has been updated.