New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) administration appears to be at the center of an investigation into securities law violations relating to a road repair project in New Jersey, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Manhattan district attorney are looking into whether Christie administration’s pressured the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to subsidize repairs to the Pulaski Skyway even though it wasn’t in the agency’s authority, the report said.
The Pulaski Skyway, a crumbling elevated roadway that connects Jersey City to Newark, is owned by New Jersey.
Lawyers for the Port Authority reportedly warned against the move, but the Christie administration lobbied to use money meant for a canceled Hudson River rail tunnel for the road repairs. The agency ultimately justified the $1.8 billion in funding for the Pulaski Skyway by claiming that it’s an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel even though they’re not connected.
Bond documents say the Port Authority called the project “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements,” the report said. Under New York state law, prosecutors can bring felony charges for deceiving bondholders without having to prove there was intent to defraud.
The potential GOP White House candidate, however, defended the project himself at a press conference in April, the Times noted.
“Dozens and dozens of lawyers from both sides of the river reviewed that financing plan and approved it,” Christie said, “as did the commissioners of the Port Authority."
The Times said Christie even publicly announced his administration’s intention to use the Port Authority’s funds for the Pulaski Skyway even before a deal was reached.
The Manhattan district attorney is also investigating repair projects on other New Jersey bridges, the Times said, but the targets of the inquiry are unclear.
Christie and his administration, meanwhile, are still being investigated by federal officials and the New Jersey legislature for the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge last fall.