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Things seem to be going from bad to worse for Governor Chris Christie after the New York Times
reported a pair of investigations into whether his administration committed securities fraud over funding a bridge project with money that is meant to be used explicitly for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Governor lobbied heavily to classify a state owned bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are miles apart from each other and don't share any actual connection. It is illegal to use Port Authority funds to fund state owned infrastructure.
Attorneys for the state of New York are looking into whether the Christie Administration violated the Martin Act, a 1921 law meant to combat financial fraud and commonly used to fight crime on Wall Street. If the Christie administration intentionally misled bond holders then criminal or civil charges can be brought against him and his administration under the Act.
Numerous Port Authority authorities have come forward to say they repeatedly told Governor Christie and others in his administration that their desire to use Port Authority money to fund the project was against the law and that the Port Authority had "no authority" to do projects on any roads that were not property of the agency. Lawyers for the authority even went so far as to say there was "absolutely no support" from them to use Port Authority funds on a state owned bridge.
Christie was undeterred and ordered the state transportation agency to spend the Port Authority funds on the bridge and somehow convinced the lawyers to revise their original memos. Their new memos claimed the bridge was an "approach and feed into the Lincoln Tunnel," which is a stretch, to say the least.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. The Martin Act gives New York prosecutors wide latitude in bringing charges against individuals and there seems to be more than enough evidence that Christie intentionally deceived the Port Authority bond holders to use their funds for a state owned project. There are certain things called laws and individuals need to be held accountable when they are broken.