Though his victory lap turned into an apology tour, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still paying off for Republicans as the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The Christie-helmed group raised $6 million in January, more than double any previous January, according to Gail Gitcho, communications director for the RGA.
Following his sweeping re-election last November, Christie – also a top 2016 presidential prospect – took over at the RGA, hoping to springboard his candidacy, schmooze top donors around the country and cement a role as one of his party’s leaders. Instead, Christie has been dogged by “Bridgegate,” where one of his top aides ordered lane closures on the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan causing lengthy back-ups in New Jersey’s Fort Lee. The move was meant to punish that city’s Democratic mayor for declining to endorse Christie’s re-election bid. Initially Christie denied any intentional political plot, but was forced to fire his deputy chief of staff after emails revealed the opposite, though he still says he had no prior knowledge of her actions.
Many speculated the scandal would tarnish his reputation, dampen donor enthusiasm and squelch his budding national political career. But so far, he’s been able to power on.
"I'm just not seeing" donor apprehension, Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors Association, told The Associated Press. "We're off to a historically strong start."
Christie continues his fundraising tour Tuesday, which already hit Texas earlier this month, heading to the Economic Club of Chicago. Gitcho said he’s also scheduled to visit Massachusetts, Utah, Georgia, Connecticut and Michigan within the next couple of months.
But even as Christie continues raising cash, New Jersey Democrats continue to dig. A new round of subpoenas – 18 – were issued Monday, looking into the bridge scandal as well as investigating Christie’s helicopter travel, according to the New York Daily News. The governor was criticized in 2011 for using the state helicopter – on the taxpayer dime – to travel to his son’s baseball game.The new round of inquiry and subpoenas follows 20 that were issued last month and target officials in the governor’s office and at the Port Authority, where officials carried out the Bridgegate request initiated by Christie’s staffer.