Chris Christie State of the State: Mistakes were made
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's State of the State address Tuesday alluded to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, noting that "mistakes were clearly made" and "we let down the people we are entrusted to serve."
"The last week has certainly tested this administration," Christie said, referring to what happened after emails went public showing that top Christie allies created a traffic jam on George Washington Bridge access lanes in Fort Lee in September as an act of political revenge against the borough's Democratic mayor, who refused to endorse Christie, a Republican, for re-election.
"I know our citizens deserve better. Much better. Now I am the governor, and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch -- both good and bad," Christie said. "Without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again."
Christie did not elaborate on what he believes constitutes "appropriate inquiries."
Thursday, Democratic legislators plan to seek to extend their subpoena power to continue to investigate the scandal, by calling witnesses and obtaining more documents. Separately, New Jersey's top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, opened a preliminary inquiry. The inspector general of the Port Authority, which controls the bridge, also is investigating.
Christie's speech remarks devoted about 150 of more than 4,100 words to the scandal, which led to the ouster or resignations of four top Christie loyalists and could damage Christie's presidential ambitions.
The rest of the speech discussed proposals to extend the school year, end bail for violent arrestees, hold the line on property taxes, modify public-sector pensions and encourage government consolidation.
Hours before Christie delivered the annual address, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee released a commercial titled "The State of the State? Embarrassed."
"As Chris Christie gives his State of the State speech," the ad says over minor-key piano music, "he's once again made New Jersey into a national punchline."
Christie was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in November.