Chris Christie Gubernatorial Campaign Staff Not Guilty of Fraud in 2013 ‘Political Payback’ Scheme
In 2013, during then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s reelection campaign, Governor Christie’s campaign staff attempted to court Democratic mayors for their endorsements. The mayor of Fort Lee chose not to support the former Governor’s reelection bid.
To “punish” Fort Lee’s mayor, Governor Christie’s campaign staff reduced from three to one the number of lanes at the George Washington Bridge reserved for Fort Lee’s morning commuters. This lane reduction caused a four day traffic halt and gridlock for Fort Lee commuters taking the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan.
Christie’s staff implied they were conducting “a traffic study”, but after their scheme was found out the change was quickly reversed.
As a result of this scheme, the staff were then charged with “wire fraud and fraud on a federally funded program or entity”.
Now, in a unanimous Supreme Court decision, the Supreme Court says that “not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime”. Additionally, “other than political payback,” the scheme “did not aim to obtain money or property”. Therefore, the campaign staff “could not have” violated federal fraud laws.