Chris Christie Faces Potential New Probe as 'Bridge-Gate' Intensifies

Federal officials may investigate New Jersey's use of funds designated for recovery following super-storm Sandy.
3:00 | 01/13/14

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Transcript for Chris Christie Faces Potential New Probe as 'Bridge-Gate' Intensifies
This is a special room. A -- -- for a New York where this ABC news digital special report more trouble today for New Jersey governor Chris Christie. He's now facing a federal probe. In -- how he spent super storm sandy relief money at issue this TV ads. Part of the State's stronger -- the storm. Post sandy towards him pitch. -- is spreading. Stronger than this. So that spot starting Christy -- it was airing during the governor's reelection campaign and is now. Under scrutiny so with more on the latest blow. To the 2016 presidential hopeful and along with these new accusations of political polling in New Jersey a wanna bring in our political director -- -- -- about latest on this. Rick. Right now of the day on the controversy for Chris Christie how controversial. Was that -- at the time. A lot of buzz when it came out because it seemed like Chris Christie was the literally the poster child for New Jersey and it came during the reelection race a race that. As we know from this other controversy he was trying to -- -- score. When -- biggest possible suddenly he is the international star. For New Jersey in a marketing campaign funded in large part by federal dollars as part of recovery dollars so. This was no small issue at the time. We heard some of his critics believe senator Rand Paul picking up at the time is saying this was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds and the Christie folks have been playing defense on -- for the better part of the year and I don't wanna play it with senator -- said. Just from that. Here's another problem some of these ads people running for office put term their mug all of these -- while there a middle of a political campaign. In New Jersey 25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office -- I think there might be a conflict of interest there. You know that's a real problem and that's why when people who are trying to do good in trying to use taxpayers' money wisely. There are offended to see our money spent on political ads. You know that's just offensive in New York -- action -- -- rule they're not allowed to do it. -- your did the same thing which I still object but at least they didn't put someone's face on the -- in their family. And it it looks like a behind -- Set the context of when those comments remain that was the day after Christie was reelected 60% of the vote. He'll -- frustration had a man in the room that day as well what what did he say about the ads. He says that he believes the ads are effective that -- -- studies on the subject and they believe that you can actually get. More bang for the buck by having tourism -- sometimes that it involved local celebrities and in -- case. The Christie administration's as they talk to consultants on this ad buyers who suggested that there was no bigger celebrity. For the case -- Chris Christie himself. We remember the images so clearly from -- sandy governor Governor Christie out there with his police. Telling people to get off the beach all of those things that were happening at that time. He became a national symbol for the stated New Jersey and that's what they were trying to tap back into -- horse they'll. There was a political opponents -- he was on the -- running for reelection he was a national brand and only making him more so so was controversial at the time but the the defense now the Chris Eagles are playing. In part leans on the Obama administration because these were funded by the federal government in large part housing and urban development. They actually approve the spending plan including this expenditure on ads although not the specific idea of using Governor Christie in those ads but Rick offer some context for this the biggest putting your own face your family even in the tourism -- that's there is nothing new about that social. Why all the excitement now. -- is nothing new about doing that any campaign but doing that in a federally it. Funded recovery -- is quite a different story and that's what the issue that that -- rose at the -- what's -- now is the context of this -- Washington -- scandal will rebuild it. Christie's top aides were engineering apparently -- -- -- -- -- according to him. It any retribution. The payback scheme against the mayor who was not on board for his campaign last year despite months of denials emails coming out just last week that showed direct retribution being played by these folks so this is that this is what is now under a microscope is the Chris -- brand of leadership and is a personal -- -- -- -- dynamic. Every aspect of it I think this is -- a little bit indirect -- terms of -- that the accusations you saw last week. This particular critique however it's part of Chris Christie and the white hot microscope spotlight that he is under right now or all of these things are fair game the way the game is played. By Chris Christie in New Jersey doesn't always. -- and of course not a formal investigation is underway and of the story and turning on the idea that -- staff. As you mentioned there in actual political vengeance closed down commuter lanes -- one of the world's most traffic bridges the George Washington Bridge. So what are we hearing today that about another democratic mayor from another New Jersey town accusing Chris Christie of such -- freezing him out. For four endorsing him because it was fort -- mayor that had initially taken -- spotlight. That's right let's move on the Jersey City now the New York Times has documents showing that the mayor of Jersey City upon being elected. Over the summer I've got it was reached out to by governor Christie's aides saying we're willing to help you do anything we can. A series of meetings -- then set up a full slate of meetings with state officials. And an according to the mayor of Jersey City when he informed the -- folks that he would not be endorsing the governor all the -- those -- were canceled it happened very quickly and a lot of the people involved with scenes folks who we now know were involved in this great scandals and suggests that he. Political operation was operating at very high and -- very mean levels at times. Terms of trying to freeze out and punish people who were not on board for the Christie campaign and there also seems to be some disparity as far as when Chris Christie said that he knew about this problem to begin with. That's right there there are a couple of -- disparities along those lines one is just the more -- one that the Governor Christie not knowing about the documents until the data came out he gets at a press conference here that. Two nights two sleepless nights -- suggest maybe he knew something. A little bit earlier. But separate from that the Wall Street -- been reporting about a phone call between Governor Christie -- Governor Cuomo. That happened now over the fall that it is pound which -- governor Christie's alleged to have told -- almost people to try to back off a little bit on their investigation of the bridge closing. If that is the case and Christie is denied -- we haven't heard from the Cuomo folks it suggest that he knew. That there was at least it -- -- the rumblings of of damage control going on inside the administration. The idea that it he would be totally out of tune with what was going on at Fort Lee looked as bad as bad traffic that happens every day in New Jersey. But this was noble no small story got wide coverage. In the local -- -- and even to some extent on national press at the time this was a very bad traffic jam affecting his constituents. It's very possible that he didn't know about the political components of it but not to not have known about. The the fact that it happened in the first place I think is a stretch. You -- -- -- -- little bit about the fact of of how he how he runs as the administration so other it's not only his his staff but it's also the relationship that he has. With mayors throughout the entire state not only from four leave -- obviously as we've been talking -- now from Jersey City. It may not be nice but there's nothing illegal about canceling a meeting so with that being said what does -- say about the bigger issue at stake. I think you know -- New Jersey has machine politics persisting more than part perhaps any other state in the union. In 2014 and that means that there are local bosses and local fiefdoms and people it was a ring you have to kiss if you go around to -- to try to run for governor. And it also means that if you're the governor there a lot of folks that you can. You can punished for not being on board Christie was trying to do something remarkable last year any any blue state he was trying to win. By near record levels that to burnish his resonate for president and I think he did he succeeded in that by. Blowing away the competition that -- -- -- many Democrats as he could democratic elected officials. On his side it was a point of pride for the -- folks the route. But that the underbelly of that is that sometimes what you're doing in the process doesn't smell so -- the idea that. There would be political -- settle that you couldn't as a mayor in a meeting that you could. Have your whole city shut down for traffic just because of some -- the -- supported any political race I think. While maybe not illegal maybe not even totally unexpected in the in the rubble politics it's certainly smells bad and for many in New Jersey residents who were personally convenience by this are now concerned about their leadership going forward -- Jersey. It's a bad bad story line. Not exactly the way that the Christie administration when -- to wake up on this Monday morning. ABC's Rick Klein in DC for -- Rick thanks so much appreciate it. Thanks and exquisitely -- here at ABC news dot conference on Dan Adler in New York with the CBC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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