Mayor: Fort Lee won’t be reimbursed for money spent following Bridge-Gate closures
The borough of Fort Lee will not be reimbursed for the money spent following the Bridge-Gate incident, according to the mayor.
Mayor Mark Sokolich asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to reimburse the borough for approximately $334,000 spent in legal fees in the wake of the scandal. But the mayor says that he received a letter from the Port Authority's general counsel rejecting the reimbursement.
"Fort lee has expended an exceptional amount of money on legal feels and document reviews and subpoena requests and OPRA requests," Sokolich says.
In the letter, obtained by News 12 New Jersey, the Port Authority says "there is no legal basis for such a claim." The letter states that since the two former Port Authority officials accused in the scandal, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, did not have "final policymaking authority with respect to the lane realignments," the agency was not liable.
The letter also states that "If Fort Lee is to seek compensation, it should look to those convicted of committing the crimes."
"When you put someone in that type of position and they perform the way they did, their responsibility is there," says Sokolich.
Fort Lee was paralyzed by traffic issues for several days in September 2013 due to the closure of two local lanes that accessed the George Washington Bridge. The lane closures were supposedly done as a form of punishment against Sokolich for refusing to endorse Gov. Chris Christie's re-election campaign.
Baroni and former Christie aide Bridget Kelly were convicted on charges related to the scandal. Wildstein pleaded guilty in the case.
Christie has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the scandal. He was not charged.
A spokesperson for the Port Authority sent News 12 a copy of the letter, but did not provide any additional comment on the situation.