A Brief History of Chris Christie Punishing His Enemies

In the wake of the Fort Lee bridge scandal, we've seen a wave of stories showing the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's history of rewarding friends and punishing people who crossed him — going all the way back to high school.

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In the wake of the Fort Lee bridge scandal, we've seen a wave of stories showing the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's history of rewarding friends and punishing people who crossed him — going all the way back to high school. It's pretty hard to reconcile Christie saying he didn't know former Port Authority figure David Wildstein with the fact that he told the Port Authority to create a position for Wildstein, as CNN reports. Wildstein's job didn't exist before he filled it.

Of course, Wildstein eventually resigned over the Fort Lee fiasco. Emails show he helped make the traffic jam happen because Christie's aides thought Fort Lee's mayor needed to be punished for not endorsing their boss.

We see a similar pattern in stories from Christie's past. Some start off funny — Mitt Romney supporters are certainly amused by Christie's troubles — but the collective picture they paint can't be great for Christie's presidential aspirations. Here's a guide to how Chris Christie treats his friends and foes: 

High School Class President

The time Christie boycotted a local diner:  In an October profile of a young Christie in the Philadelphia Inquirer, there's a story about Christie getting angry when the owner of the Heritage Diner kicked his friends out for not ordering anything. He staged a boycott, passed out flyers and wrote an op-ed in the local paper, causing his business to shrink. He punished him until he let his friends loiter in his restaurant. 

Who took the hit: The diner owner — a small business owner — obviously.

University of Delaware Student Congress

This bridge stayed open. The Review.

The time Christie set up a political machine: As Talking Points Memo found on Thursday, Christie may have set up a political machine while he was the president of the University of Delaware's student congress. Here's an excerpt from a disgruntled student Richard Abbott's op-ed title "Christie's cronyism" in the school paper:

"'Cronyism' in DUSC has caused frustration and disgust of many hard working members, and led to the resignation of five voting members by mid-year. WHY?" Abbott wrote. "When a member perseveres in his or her student government work, and then witnesses the appointment of the president's friends or even his brother to committee chairmanships one begins to wonder about the legitimacy of DUSC."

Who took the hit: Abbott seemed pretty upset.

Governor of New Jersey

The time Christie shut down a mean public broadcast station: In August 2009, Zack Fink, a reporter at the state's public broadcast channel New Jersey Network, broke a story about how Christie had given a $46,000 loan to a subordinate at the U.S. Attorney's Office (which led to questions about his political ties to the office when he ran for governor). Christie obviously didn't like the story, and he shut down the station. Al Sharpton interviewed Fink for MSNBC:

Who took the hit: As New York magazine pointed out, Christie punishes journalists he doesn't like. This was a particularly aggressive move that cost 150 people their jobs. (Speaking of which, if you're a part of Christie's PR team, tell him I'm sorry about this.)

The time Christie was tied to an underperforming halfway house system: In 2012 The New York Times investigated New Jersey's massive private sector halfway house system, after reports of thousands of escapees. Many of the escapees were caught after committing new crimes, including murder. Christie was a little too closely associated with the group that ran the system:

Mr. Christie himself was registered as a lobbyist for the company in 2000 and 2001 when he was a private lawyer, according to disclosure reports that his law firm filed with the state. In early 2010, he hired the son-in-law of Community Education’s chief executive as an assistant in the governor’s office, according to state personnel records.

Who took the hit: This wasn't an act of retribution so much as a lack of oversight possibly motivated by friendly ties. Still, people died.


The time Christie told Port Authority to invent a job for his friend: David Wildstein, the Port Authority figure Christie repeatedly claimed to barely know, apparently got his job thanks to Christie. "A former Port Authority employee told CNN that agency officials were told in 2010 they had to find a place for Wildstein at the executive level and the directive was coming from Christie's office," CNN reported. Wildstein recently resigned over his part in bridgegate.

Who took the hit:  Fort Lee, and anyone who drives on the George Washington Bridge.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.