By Brenda Flanagan
About 20 anti-Chris Christie protestors chanted, “Lock him up!” as gadfly Bill Brennan arrived with two big announcements. First, Brennan’s fighting Friday’s court ruling that denied his request for a special independent prosecutor in Brennan’s Bridgegate complaint against the governor. The judge ruled Brennan lacked proper legal standing to request a special prosecutor, but he disagrees.
Brennan said, “I never sought permission to prosecute Chris Christie. All I sought was a neutral and detached prosecutor, unbeholden to the defendant. It’s a classic, bait-and-switch straw man tactic, designed to avoid the salient Constitutional issues that are properly before that court.”
The salient issue, he says, is conflict of interest. Brennan asks, how can assistants in the Bergen County Prosecutor and State Attorney General’s offices fairly prosecute a case against Gov. Christie when he appointed their bosses? Brennan claims Christie is guilty of official misconduct because he says, testimony in the federal Bridgegate trial shows the governor knew about the politically-motivated lane closures on the GWB but did nothing to stop them.
“It’s unprecedented,” said Brennan. “The level of deceit that’s gone on. The charade that Mr. Christie has been playing in this state is in the tens of millions of dollars and has gone on far too long.”
“It’s outrageous and we shouldn’t let him get away with it,” said Peggy Bost.
Peggy and her husband Kevin stood among Brennan’s supporters. The landscaper spent hours trapped in Bridgegate traffic.
“They were just playing that prank,” said Kevin. “To close the lanes down, to stop interstate commerce, screw the Fort Lee mayor that’s ridiculous. You can’t do that!”
Christie has consistently denied any knowledge or involvement in Bridgegate and he was not indicted in the federal case that ended in convictions of two of his top aides. Critics contend that Brennan craves the spotlight an assertion that he seems to validate today with this surprise announcement.
“I am a candidate for office of the state of New Jersey and I am challenging Phil Murphy,” said Brennan.
Christie’s attorney, Craig Carpenito, commented, “With today’s announcement of his gubernatorial candidacy, Mr. Brennan reveals his true motivation behind this political stunt,” and warned of, “dangers inherent in allowing a politically moticated citizen to raise claims when that citizen has no conceivable nexus to the conduct in question.”
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick said, “It’s unsettling. If a prosecutor — or a private citizen, acting as a prosecutor — then turns it into a political agenda or a political mission, that’s unsettling. It should be unsettling to everyone.”
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi opposes Brennan’s complaint, period.
“I think it opens up a potential floodgate for any self-proclaimed advocate to now try to utilize the criminal system in bringing complaints against elected officials and not allowing the proper authorities to do their jobs,” said Schepisi.
Brennan says he will take his request for a special prosecutor to the state Supreme Court and the federal courts if necessary.