Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich claims New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's office "wooed" him in order to earn an endorsement from the Democrat, and the September traffic jams on the George Washington Jams were punishment.
In a two-hour interview Thursday night, Sokolich told the Bergen Record that Christie's office gave him special treatment, including Port Authority-related favors, heading up to the special election last year with the hope he would read across the aisle and endorse the Republican governor. Christie's office never explicitly said the treatment was related to an endorsement, Sokolich said, but "he said he came to see it as a quid pro quo," the Record reports. The traffic jams were allegedly punishment after an endorsement never materialized.
So, how does Christie allegedly seduce an endorsement from a Democrat? Sokolich claims he was able to organize for his two cousins visiting from Croatia in October 2012 a personal tour of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza with David Wildstein, the former Port Authority deputy director who says Christie knew about the lane closures. Sokolich claims he also received other favors from the Port Authority, including snow plow service. But the biggest effort to court Sokolich, according to the mayor, was a lunch with Christie at his governor's mansion in Princeton.
On Friday, Sokolich told the Wall Street Journal his town received "typical host community stuff," but that they deserved more. In other words: what Christie offered was interesting, but not enough.
But these comment contradict past remark from Sokolich. Here, he claims Christie's office never asked him for an endorsement. But Sokolich told The New York Times in January that a Christie official reached out and asked him directly. "I never called and said no, I never called and said yes," Sokolich said to the Times. "I think they interpreted my response to that conversation to be a no." Christie's team pointed out Sokolich's shifting narratives to the Record when denying the latest allegations. Previously, Christie said he couldn't pick Sokolich "out of a lineup." Must have been a riveting (alleged) lunch, then.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.