Port Authority reviewing Bridge-Gate testimony, seeking changes

Bridge authority could review testimony from recent trial

Bridge authority could review testimony from recent trial (11/17/16)

NEW YORK - The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is reviewing testimony from the recent criminal trial of two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie.

Some testimony during the so-called Bridge-Gate trial depicted the Port Authority as a source of political favors used by Christie's office to try to gain political endorsements.

"Bridge-Gate was an incredibly sad, profoundly disturbing episode for the Port Authority,” says Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.

The Port Authority's Operations Committee has ordered their lawyers, as well as outside counsel, to comb through Bridge-Gate testimony as it relates to every member of the Port Authority.  This is to see if more reforms are needed on top of what's already been put in place.

"Off hand, a whistleblower's statute, a revised code of ethics, a commitment that we will increase transparency at board meetings,” says Port Authority Chairman John Degnan.

Former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni was convicted of closing lanes leading up to the George Washington Bridge to purposely cause traffic jams in what prosecutors say was a political revenge plot against the mayor of Fort Lee, who didn't endorse Christie. Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, also was convicted.

The governor has denied wrongdoing and wasn't charged in the scandal.

There were allegations during the trial that some Port Authority officials knew the real reason for the lane closures, but chose not to stop it.  Foye had admitted during the trial that he had signed off on a press release that said the shutdown was part of a traffic study. 

Foye refused comment on the verdicts but says, "The Bridge-Gate episode, I think, has done significant and lasting damage for the reputation, brand equity and the morale here."

The counsels now have 90 days to come back with their report on any sort of recommendations for the agency.  The suggestions will go to the committee who will decide if and when there should be any more changes.

Port Authority Chairman John Degnan also said Thursday he will seek to change rules that allow agency employees to not cooperate with internal investigations.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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