Bridgegate: Christie Aides Involved in Scheme to Hike Tolls

Two of Gov. Chris Christie appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey led a secretive campaign to quickly push through toll hikes on the Hudson River bridges and tunnels, according to a published report.

Citing interviews it conducted with eight people who were familiar with the operation, The Record reports the campaign was run by Bill Baroni, the authority's former deputy executive director, and his aide, David Wildstein:

George Washington Bridge, Governor Christie’s top two executives at the Port Authority led a secretive campaign to quickly push through controversial toll hikes on the Hudson River bridges and tunnels by drowning out criticism, limiting public input and portraying the governors of New York and New Jersey as fiscal hawks who reined in an out-of-control agency.

The goal was to have the bistate agency propose an enormous toll hike so the governors could scale it back and appear to be fiscal hawks:

At its heart was a plan to have the Port Authority, an independent bi-state agency, propose an enormous toll hike — a $6 increase that would bring the E-ZPass toll to $14 by 2014 — so that the governors could then scale it back. The smaller increases that were ultimately approved in 2011 — $4.50 over four years — allowed both governors to claim credit while they set the stage for each state to claim hundreds of millions of dollars to fund pet projects not directly related to the Port Authority.

Smaller toll increases were eventually approved in 2011.

The newspaper says Cuomo's office didn't return requests seeking comment. Baroni, Wildstein and Christie's office all declined comment.

Neither Christie's office nor Cuomo's office responded to requests for comment made by The Associated Press on Sunday afternoon.

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