Now facing a scandal equivalent to Governor Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s administration is denying claims that ex-city Police Chief Robert Cowan made against him – stating that he caused a traffic jam outside the Holland Tunnel late last year – as a handful of Democratic lawmakers begin to urge the Attorney General to investigate the accusation.
By Katherine Guest/Hudson County View
“There has never been a traffic safety stop at the Holland Tunnel during Mayor Fulop’s time in office and the other traffic stops including Port Jersey have been documented extensively. Whenever traffic safety stops have been implemented, they have been conducted in accordance with the law and out of concern for the safety of Jersey City residents,” said city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.
On February 20, 2014, a Jersey City Traffic Enforcement memo elaborated on a 30 day “traffic safety stop campaign” in Jersey City, according to Morrill, and Cowan allegedly never expressed any issues with the matter to Fulop or Public Safety Director James Shea – at the time.
A lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court earlier this year alleged that Cowan “‘threatened to ruin cops who pulled over a city aide.’” There are two other lawsuits alleging that Cowan had punished officers with whom he had a personal conflict.
On June 25, Fulop wrote a letter to Cowan concerning his demotion, “[w]e have also grown concerned with the number of lawsuits filed against your office for retaliation.”
Cowan requested a hearing with the city council to debunk some of Fulop’s claims, but instead received a meeting with Fulop while his attorney – Shelley Stangler – was present.
Stangler told The Jersey Journal that Fulop’s plan was “designed solely to cause havoc for the Port Authority,” since Mayor Fulop had a $400 million lawsuit being written up against the bi-state agency. Furthermore, she claimed Cowan was a “subject of retribution” for his demotion.
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13), alongside a bipartisan group of six committee members, requested a letter be submitted to the state Attorney General to investigate Mayor Fulop in reference to the traffic safety stop campaign, according to Politicker NJ.
Tim O’Donovan, communication director for Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), stated that the request was sent earlier this week and no definitive timeline was given for a response.
Wisniewski, Handlin and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), who runs the Bridgegate investigation committee with Wisniewski, could not be reached for comment.