TRENTON – Republican Gov. Chris Christie officially began his second term on Tuesday, but 11 weeks after his easy victory over Democratic challenger state Sen. Barbara Buono, the governor’s reputation has been tarnished by allegations of scandal surrounding his administration.
Former Virginia Gov. Ken Cuccinelli called on Christie to resign as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a fundraising organization for Republican gubernatorial candidates. “He does not serve the goals of the organization by staying as chairman,” Cuccinelli said on CNN’s “Crossfire.”
According to a new Rutgers-Eagleton opinion poll, just 46 percent of New Jersey residents have a favorable opinion of the governor, down from 65 percent before the election.
The FBI is investigating allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that senior Christie administration officials pressured her to support a development project in exchange for Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno flatly denied the mayor’s allegation, but Zimmer supplied personal diary entries that she says support her account. Hoboken City Councilman David Mello also backs Zimmer’s claims, according to an NBC News report.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman is also leading an investigation into the role of Christie and his staff in the closure of several access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September. While no evidence has emerged that directly ties the governor to any wrongdoing, his two highest-ranking appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey both resigned after the scandal came to public attention.
Christie also fired Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly after an Aug. 13 email to Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein saying that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” became public.
A joint Legislative committee co-chaired by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) is also investigating the bridge scandal.
Despite the negative attention surrounding the governor’s administration, Christie is still in demand as a fundraiser. Next month he has trips planned to Chicago and multiple cities in Texas, and he was in Florida last weekend raising money for Gov. Rick Scott.
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