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Port Authority executive seeks probe of agency police in George Washington Bridge scandal

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By Steve Kastenbaum

NEW YORK (CNN) -- There is a new layer of scrutiny around the now notorious closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which created traffic gridlock and touched off a political scandal in New Jersey roiling Gov. Chris Christie's administration.

The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the nation's biggest bridge, has ordered an investigation into the role its police force may have played around the lane closures for several days last September.

Sources familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about it, said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye has ordered the bi-state agency's inspector general to investigate.

Specifically, he wants the watchdog to look into the actions of police following reports that officers told frustrated motorists stuck in traffic to direct their complaints to the mayor of Fort Lee, or to call the borough of Fort Lee's offices to complain.

MSNBC first reported the development over the weekend.

A number of top Christie gubernatorial and political advisers have been swept up in the scandal involving suggestions state officials orchestrated the gridlock to politically punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing their boss for reelection last November.

Christie said he didn't know about the traffic mess until after it was over and only after media reports surfaced. Additionally, he has denied knowledge of any political scheme.

One top aide has been fired and others have left their jobs over the matter being investigated by a state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

MSNBC reported it appears that a Port Authority police officer with close family ties to Christie drove a key figure in the scandal -- Port Authority executive David Wildstein - around bridge facilities at the time of the traffic snarls to inspect the gridlocked conditions.

E-mails released in January as the lane closure scandal investigation heated up in Trenton, suggested Wildstein, a high school classmate of Christie appointed to his post by the governor, carried out the lane closures.

The legislative panel probing the traffic jams is also interested in the role of police. Some say if police told drivers to direct their complaints to the mayor of Fort Lee, it would bolster claims they were indeed intended as an act of political retribution.

 

The-CNN-Wire

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