Bombshell documents show that decisions that caused days of traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge — possibly in retaliation against a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) for reelection — reached closer to Christie than he has previously acknowledged.
Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, sent an August 13 email to former Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein, a Christie ally: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) had declined to endorse Christie for re-election, unlike many other Democratic municipal officials in the state.
The Wall Street Journal obtained that email and 21 other pages of emails and text messages, a series that shows coordination between the Christie administration and the Port Authority over the lane closures — and suggests the closures were politically motivated, not part of a “traffic study.”
In a text to Baroni, Sokolich had said that the problem of busing students to school was “maddening.”
In a subsequent text message exchange, an unidentified person told Wildstein, “I feel badly about the kids. I guess.” Wildstein replied, “They are the children of Buono voters,” referring to then-State Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic opponent in the November election.
According to the Bergen Record, the emails and messages were provided by Wildstein to a New Jersey State Assembly committee in compliance with a subpoena.
National Democrats have been hammering Christie for the past month over the controversy, charging that the lane closures were political payback for a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie for re-election last year. Christie has denied that charge.
Bill Baroni, the former deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and Jersey and Christie’s top official at the Port Authority, has said that the lane closures were part of a traffic study. But these documents cast doubts on those claims.
Christie has previously said that no one on his legislative or campaign staff was involved in the lane closures. He also brushed off questions in December on the topic by joking that he moved the cones himself.
But as the Record describes it, the emails show that Kelly “was involved in the planning and received updates during the week of the traffic jams.” Kelly also knew that Christie appointees at the Port Authority were “ignoring the Fort Lee mayor’s desperate attempts to get a reason for the sudden unannounced closures.”
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