Surprise: Another NJ Democrat suddenly remembers something, changes story about Christie
posted at 6:44 pm on February 7, 2014 by Guy Benson
The Mayor of Fort Lee, whose city was targeted with disruptive lane closures at the George Washington Bridge by since-fired Christie administration officials , is abruptly changing his story about endorsement politics:
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich has accused the Christie administration of an extensive campaign involving gifts to his borough from the Port Authority to solicit his endorsement of the governor’s reelection. When Sokolich did not comply but accepted the gifts which included shuttle buses, snow plowing, filled potholes and emergency radios, he says he now feels he was punished by paralyzing traffic jams in his borough during four days last September. Sokolich’s comments, in a two-hour interview in his office Thursday night in which he mirrored some of the statements that he gave to Bloomberg News, represent his harshest criticism yet of the Christie administration and the first time he has linked last September’s gridlock to his refusal to break from his Democratic party and endorse Christie, a Republican…Efforts to gain his endorsement began nearly two years ago and included a personal tour of the 9/11 Memorial plaza in lower Manhattan.
A-ha! Christie’s motive for political retribution! The governor has stated that he never personally sought Sokolich’s endorsement — and that, in fact, he barely knew the guy at all. “He was not somebody who was on my radar screen in any way,” Christie said of Sokolich. Christie aides have acknowledged that members of the re-election campaign tested the endorsement waters with numerous number of mayors, including Sokolich, but that he was in no way a top priority. In the tenth (!) paragraph of the new Bergen Record story, reporter Mike Kelly finally makes mention of a fairly relevant detail:
Sokolich’s comments are his most extensive since those traffic jams last September and, in a few cases, directly contradict his previous statements.
Kelly doesn’t elaborate (!!), so I guess that task falls on yours truly. Here’s what Mayor Sokolich said, on the record, after ‘Bridgegate’ first broke — when the “this was payback over his refusal to endorse Christie” narrative was all over the media. On CNN:
“I don’t recall a specific request to endorse..but, you know, the events that led up to all of this I guess you can interpret to be somehow attracting me to endorse.”
In the New York Times:
A member of Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign staff came calling to see if Mr. Sokolich, a Democrat, would endorse the governor, a Republican … Sokolich, however, was noncommittal. ‘I said, “Yes, I’ll consider it, because I’ll consider anything,”’ he recalled. He chewed it over with local council members and two objections arose … And so the mayor let the request go. ‘I never called and said no, I never called and said yes,’ said Mr. Sokolich, who would not name the official who had reached out to him. ‘I think they interpreted my response to that conversation to be a no.’”
Weird. In the midst of the breaking scandal, Sokolich recalled that Team Christie’s endorsement-related outreach was pretty tepid. So tepid, in fact, that a formal request never actually materialized, leading the mayor to “let it go,” evidently without any follow-up from the Christie camp. Now, several weeks into the pile-on — with national Democrats seeking to keep banging this drum until Christie’s dead — Sokolich suddenly remembers that his endorsement courting process was super-intensive and spanned nearly two years. All that’s left is for Sokolich to produce a “diary entry” that “proves” his newly-revised recollection of how everything went down. Could Democrats be any more transparent about what they’re trying to do here?
By the way, Sokolich has also recently said that he takes Christie “at his word” that the governor had nothing to do with the lane closure scheme, a sentiment solidified during Christie’s visit to Fort Lee after his January press conference. Sokolich at first tried to tell Christie to stay out of his city, then relented, and the two had a “productive” meeting.