When Gov. Chris Christie announced that his transportation commissioner was resigning amid a series of questions about his knowledge of administration scandals, it was reminiscent of other times the governor has released bad news late on a Friday. It lands just as reporters are trying to head home for the weekend, and when there is a smaller audience paying attention.
All of these news dumps happened after 3 p.m. on Fridays. One happened on a Saturday night:
1) Gun Vetoes: Christie announced the vetoes of three major pieces of gun-control legislation on a Friday a few weeks before his reelection in 2013. The scuttled bills were bipartisan measures passed following the fatal Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut and included a ban on purchases of the Barrett .50-caliber gun, which was a proposal that Christie himself had made months earlier. These were some of the most controversial vetoes of Christie’s entire tenure in office in that it pitted New Jerseyans, who generally favor stricter gun control, against conservatives in early presidential states like New Hampshire, where gun rights activists lobbied against the bills.
2) Rejection of Post-Bridgegate Port Authority Reform: In the wake of Bridgegate, the legislatures of both New York and New Jersey — four chambers — unanimously passed a comprehensive bill to fix some of the transparency and leadership problems that were believed to have laid the groundwork for corruption. On a Saturday night between Christmas and New Year’s last year, both governors vetoed the legislation, claiming they favored stronger reforms. So far, those stronger sweeping changes have not appeared.
3) Toll Hikes: The Port Authority announced massive toll hikes at all of its crossings on a Friday afternoon in August; the timing was later found to have been orchestrated by Christie’s top appointees at the agency.
4) Jamie Fox Resignation: Following reports about Transportation Commissioner Fox’s allegedly witnessing possible bribery in the so-called Chairman’s Flight scandal — plus WNYC’s revelation that he pressured lawmakers to back away from the Bridgegate investigation, not to mention reporting from the Associated Press and The Record about possibly blurring the lines between his lobbying and governmental work, Fox resigned But the resignation was announced after 5 p.m. on Friday (see email, above), hours after Christie dodged two questions about whether Fox was still in good standing with the administration.
5) David Wildstein Resignation: The resignation of the former Port Authority official in the wake of the lane closures at the Port Authority was leaked to The Record of Bergen County on a Friday afternoon and later confirmed by other news organizations. Wildstein has since pleaded guilty to his role in Bridgegate. (The resignations of the other two top officials at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni and David Samson, were also announced on Fridays, but earlier in the day so they do not count as official news dumps.)
6) Bridgegate Legal Bills: Shortly after concluding a press conference in Asbury Park in August 2014, the acting attorney general emailed invoices to reporters revealing the cost billed by attorneys representing the governor’s office over the Bridgegate affair had , more than doubled to more than $6 million. The total for all legal costs is now more than $10 million.
7) Christie’s Foreign Trips: Six months after Christie wrapped up a series of foreign trips — to Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom — the governor’s office released total taxpayer costs for security, transportation, and photography: $123,893.