Saint Peter’s University Professors Available for Comment on George Washington Bridge Scandal

Alain Sanders, J.D., professor of political science at Saint Peter’s University, and Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D., director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Public Affairs at Saint Peter’s University, are available for comment regarding the recent scandal surrounding Governor Christie’s administration and the GWB traffic jam.

What:

Breaking news yesterday revealed that Governor Chris Christie’s senior staff had advanced knowledge of a plan to shut down two lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which ultimately caused a massive traffic jam. The scandal surrounding this incident is quickly growing to become a national news story. Alain Sanders, J.D., professor of political science at Saint Peter’s University, and Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D., director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Public Affairs at Saint Peter’s University, are available for comment on what this news means for the Christie administration and how it could potentially impact his political career.

When:

Thursday, January 9

Who:

Alain Sanders, J.D., political science professor at Saint Peter’s University Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D., director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s University

Commentary:

Alain Sanders, J.D. professor of political science at Saint Peter’s University:

“This is not a scandal that is likely to blow over easily because, to skeptics and to his opponents, it seems to confirm the worst about Governor Christie: that he is a bully, that he is vengeful, and that he is arrogant and insulting to his opponents. None of these are traits that people seek in a governor, let alone a would-be president.

What is particularly damaging for Governor Christie is that these traits undermine much of what he stands for. His recent campaign slogan was “strong leadership.” But now it will be asked how such an outrageous plot could have been planned and executed by the Governor’s inner circle? Did he know or not know about the plot? Either way the answer does not comport with a claim of strong leadership.

Additionally, a governor’s most basic responsibilities are the health and safety of the citizens of his state–what is constitutionally known as the police power responsibilities. This is not a scandal that simply sought to inflict petty political damage on a local mayor in Fort Lee. This is a scandal that disrupted the lives of hundred of thousands of people and businesses, disrupted the emergency services of first responders, and may even have caused injury or loss of life. Aside from its immense callousness, there may be some real quantifiable damage here, and it would not be surprising if some lawyers began to look into the situation.

Finally, Governor Christie is a former prosecutor. If there is anything a prosecutor should stand for, it is the fair and equal application of the law–not application of the law for political purposes. The scandal does not comport with the image of a prosecutor as the even-handed advocate of the people.

All of these matters would be serious for any governor. But they are particularly serious for this governor because, in the short run, he chairs the Republican Governors Association, and in the long run, he is viewed as a potential Republican candidate for the Presidency. This increases both the visibility of the scandal for Governor Christie and the depth of the political wound it can inflict on him. It will give great pause to many Republicans and will be discussed among insiders long after it disappears from the headlines.”

Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D., director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s University:

“Yesterday’s revelations are a clear indication that the George Washington Bridge saga involved the Governor’s Office. Clearly, the lane closures, which wreaked havoc on Fort Lee and the surrounding communities, were an act of vindictiveness. This is the very sort of political abuse that the Governor has built his career fighting against. The complete disregard for public safety and the families in the area is startling. You could only imagine how U.S. Attorney Christie would have reacted. The public is still left with more troubling questions: who else in the Governor’s inner circle was aware of the reason for the closing and when? Also, the public has a right to ask what and when the Governor was made aware of this situation?”

Contact:

Angeline Boyer
Saint Peter’s University
Work: (201) 761-6238
Cell: (973) 769-6833
Aboyer1@saintpeters.edu