GLASS HOUSES JANUARY 21, 2014
It’s been a rough turn in the spotlight of late for two New Jersey women: Bridget Kelly, Chris Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken. Both have found themselves accused of lying. In Kelly's case, Christie used his January 9 "Bridge-gate" press conference to announce that he had fired her “because she lied to me.” In Zimmer's case, Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, has declared false Zimmer’s account of how Hoboken was denied post-Sandy aid for political reasons.
But Kelly and Zimmer can take some solace in this: when it comes to being called liars by Christie, they have plenty of company. The word rolls easily off the tongue for Christie—in that January 9 press conference, he used it six different times. Guadagno never used the "l" word specifically, but the accusation of dishonesty against Zimmer was clear all the same—and awfully familiar to people who've watched Christie over the years. Here is just a small sampling of the other people in the accused-liars club:
1. While running for the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1994 Christie accused one of the Republican incumbents, Cecilia Laureys, of lying about the existence of minutes for a meeting on the purchase of new police computer systems. “I don’t know why she did it, but she lied and it’s not the first time she lied about the whole thing,” Christie said. Laureys and another Republican on the board would later sue Christie for defamation over an ad he ran that wrongly asserted that they were under investigation.
2. Shortly after his election as governor in 2009, Christie branded as “political lying” a proposal by Assemblyman John McKeon to change the ways that governors appoint senators during vacancies.
3. In 2010, Christie accused his education commissioner, Bret Schundler, of having lied to him over the state’s bungled application for federal education funding. After firing Schundler, Christie told reporters that the upshot of the episode was “Don’t lie to the governor.” Furious, Schundler produced e-mails showing that he had been forthright with the governor about what had happened with the grant failure.
4. Also in 2010, Christie called “a lie” the claim by General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver that she had asked to meet with him about a proposed compromise on public employee arbitration reforms. Again, e-mails subsequently undermined his charge.
5. In 2012, Christie had this to say to voters about Assembly Democrats’ proposal for a 20 percent tax credit: “They’re lying to you."
6. Also in 2012 (just before their rapprochement over Hurricane Sandy) Christie accused Barack Obama of lying in saying that Mitt Romney wanted further tax cuts for the wealthy. “Stop lying, Mr. President,” he said.
There are two ways of looking at this tendency by Christie. One is that he has had the great misfortune in life of having found himself surrounded by an uncommonly mendacious lot of people. The other is that, with his own credibility and veracity now seriously on the line, he somewhere along the line missed the lessons about glass houses and black kettles.