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Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Bridgegate committee co-chairs raise eyebrows at Christie institute

Weinberg says she laughed at former governor’s mission to bring civility to politics

By Nikita Biryukov, August 16 2019 12:52 pm

The co-chairs of the committee that investigated the biggest scandal of Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure are eyeing Christie’s new public policy institute with raised eyebrows.

“I think those of us who are familiar with Gov. Christie’s civility over the eight years he was in office laughed at what he adopted as the vision for this new institute,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said.

On Thursday, NJ Advanced Media reported Christie will soon lead a Seton Hall University public policy institute bearing his name. The focus? Civility in politics.

Christie’s political rise and his time as New Jersey’s governor was marked by his no-holds-barred rhetoric that targeted residents the same way it did the political opposition.

He once asked reporters to “take the bat out on [Weinberg] for once.”

“Certainly, as a former governor, he has policy experience. A public policy institute seems like a good use as his eight years as governor and eight years before that as U.S. attorney,” former Assemblyman John Wisniewski said. “What I thought was curious, and the word chutzpah comes to mind, is a public policy based on civility.”

Weinberg and Wisniewski co-chaired the Select Committee that investigated Bridgegate.

“His brand as a U.S. attorney was, but more particularly as a governor, the brash, harsh in-your-face governor. He tried to run for president of the United States on that and got outdone by Donald Trump, so it seems to be a weak spot for him discussing the lessons of civility in modern politics,” Wisniewski said. “It’s like going to Donald Trump asking for lessons on business ethics.”

The former governor once called a former Navy SEAL an idiot at a town hall.

Still, it’s possible that Christie’s past incivility will give Christie a good idea of what to avoid in the pursuit of civil discourse, Weinberg said.

“He’s certainly learned by doing on the other side of the coin, so maybe he will have something to impart,” she said.

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