Christie’s dealings with other mayors scrutinized


File: Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Was Fort Lee (N.J.) Mayor Mark Sokolich the exception or the rule?

That's the question reporters are asking following the revelation that a member of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) staff targeted Fort Lee for a traffic jam -- something Democrats have alleged was due to Sokolich's refusal to endorse Christie's reelection campaign.

So if Sokolich got such treatment over something so petty as not endorsing a governor of the opposite party, were other Democratic mayors targeted in a similar manner?

Here's what reporters have uncovered so far:

* Documents released Monday show Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, shortly after winning election last year 2013, had a schedule of meetings with agency heads in the Christie administration, but saw those meetings quickly canceled after he declined to endorse Christie. Fulop's meetings were scheduled in coordination with Bridget Anne Kelly, the Christie aide who was fired for her involvement in the Fort Lee situation and, according to Christie, for lying to him about it.

The Fulop incident first reported by the Wall Street Journal and has been confirmed by the Washington Post and other outlets.

* According to WNYC, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer received less than 1 percent of the Hurricane Sandy aid she requested after declining to back Christie. She said she couldn't say for sure whether she felt targeted:  “With 20/20 hindsight, in the context we're in right now, we can always look back and say, 'Okay, was it retribution?' I think probably all mayors are reflecting right now and thinking about it, but I really hope that that's not the case.”

* Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage was more certain than Zimmer about being targeted, telling WNYC: "The Governor's retribution was to close down the Division of Motor Vehicles here in the city of Elizabeth, which is the fourth-largest city in the state of New Jersey."

In none of these cases is there a smoking gun that proves reprisals were initiated by Christie's office as a result of the failure to endorse Christie's campaign. In the case of Fulop, though, the close proximity of the meetings having been canceled (almost all were canceled within an hour, according to reports) will raise questions about political retribution.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · January 13