Gov. Chris Christie to make bridge controversy part of State of State address

Gov. Chris Christie to make bridge controversy part of State of State address
State of New Jersey
News
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 8:30am

Gov. Chris Christie will tackle the controversy surrounding the George Washington Bridge when he delivers New Jersey's State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, a source close to the governor told CNN.

Normally, a State of a State address doesn't create such a state of interest, but this is different.

Christie is embroiled in multiple scandals and is considered by many to be a GOP frontrunner for the White House in 2016.

When he takes the podium in Trenton, more than just the residents of New Jersey will be listening in, much of the nation will lend an ear too.

Why? The embattled Republican is facing two investigations in New Jersey on whether his staff orchestrated traffic gridlock near the country's busiest bridge to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election.

On Friday, the New Jersey State Assembly committee investigating the scandal released more than 2,000 pages of documents suggesting politics was behind the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge and showing top Christie aides allegedly tried to stonewall media inquiries into the matter.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, is also looking into the bridge matter.

The governor has already dismissed two top advisers for their roles in the scandal and has repeatedly apologized for being "blindsided" by what his aides and appointees were doing.

But it doesn't stop there. CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used Superstorm Sandy relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family.

In the new investigation, federal auditors will examine New Jersey's use of $25 million of the funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN.

In a statement on Monday, Christie's office said the "Stronger than the Storm" campaign was part of an "action plan" approved by the Obama administration and developed with the goal of showing that the New Jersey shore was open for business just several months after the storm.

While political observers say the bridge scandal isn't good for Christie, the Sandy investigation has the potential to be much more damaging to his national image since it was his signature achievement following the devastating storm.

During his speech, Christie will call for a longer school day and school year as part of his continuing education reforms.

"Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally. Life in 2014 demands something more for our students," Christie will say, according to an excerpt from his address. "It is time to lengthen both the school day and school year in New Jersey."

He'll also say the state's biggest accomplishments have been achieved by putting politics aside and working together. Christie will challenge the people of New Jersey and the legislature to do the same thing during his second term. 

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