Last Friday, November 4, Chris Christie’s political career effectively hit rock bottom. Now, to be fair, the 54-year-old governor of New Jersey has not had a stellar few months, but the courtroom events that unfolded in the past week may have very well ended his political career. Last Friday was the conclusion of the case regarding Christie’s staff and their corrupt plan that shut down the George Washington Bridge for five days in 2013. The aptly named “Bridgegate” case basically shut down the bridge, halting all commuters and emergency vehicles, making it impossible for people to get to work or school. Now, three years later, the trial has finally come to an end. After five days of deliberation, the jury found two of Christie’s staffers, Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, guilty of seven charges in total.
The events of Bridgegate took place from Sept. 9 through 13, 2013, and have been claimed to be an act of retaliation and punishment against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The mayor, Mark Sokolich, was apparently being reprimanded for endorsing Barbara Buono, Christie’s opponent, in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election. Since the allegations were originally made, Christie has repeatedly said he, “had no knowledge prior to or during the lane realignments”. However, four of the staffers who testified in the trial have stated that Christie was aware of the plan both before and during its execution.
While Christie may not have been put on trial for the actions that occurred in 2013, he certainly has not gotten out of this debacle scot-free. Despite the conviction of his staff, Christie’s name has still not been completely cleared of suspicion in the case. According to an article from Politico, prosecuting attorney Paul Fishman claimed, “he brought cases only against those he could prove beyond a ‘reasonable doubt’ were guilty”. This, of course, does not mean that Christie is innocent; it just means that no charges were filed against him directly due to lack of evidence and a cowardly prosecutor. Jurors for the trial were angered by the conclusion of the trial and felt that Christie was, “a master puppeteer and was aware of everything that went on, and goes on, within his administration”.
Unfortunately for Christie, this blow to his career was one of the last he could take. Following a lackluster run for the Republican nomination, his approval ratings in his home state have dropped to a record low 21 percent, compared to the 72 percent rating he earned in November of 2012. While Christie has claimed this is not the end for him, it seems that his people are turning against him more than ever.
This is probably for the best. Do we really want more corruption to remain in Washington D.C. after this whole election cycle has finally come to a close? Christie’s actions, or the actions of his staff, were purely ones of selfishness and self-importance. While they accomplished their goal of antagonizing Mayor Sokolich, they also managed to punish him for expressing his right to support any candidate and vote freely. To make matters worse, this self-importance also led to thousands of people in America being kept from work or school, stopped people from attending memorial services on 9/11 and halted emergency vehicles in their tracks. While the Bridgegate scandal may have been a good laugh for Gov. Christie’s staff, it created a huge inconvenience and danger to the people that he is supposed to represent as a member of the American political system.
Even if Gov. Christie is not prosecuted for the Bridgegate scandal, the conclusion of the trial and guilt of his staff members will hopefully be the death of his political career. With the amount of corruption and distrust that is already present in American politics, the last thing we need as a country is another person that puts their own personal grudges above the safety and well being of the rest of the nation. Christie’s collapsed political career may be a downfall for himself and his staff, but for the rest of America, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.
Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.