Chris Christie Caused Traffic Jam For Political Revenge
A series of newly obtained emails and text messages shows that Gov. Chris Christie’s office was closely involved with lane closings on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September, and that officials closed the lanes in what appeared to be retribution against the mayor whose town was gridlocked as a result.
Mr. Christie has insisted that his staff and his campaign office had nothing to do with the local lane closings, and said that they were done as part of a traffic study.
But the emails show that Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Christie’s office, gave a signal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close the lanes about two weeks before the closings occurred.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she emailed David Wildstein, Mr. Christie’s close friend from high school, and one of his appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge.
Mr. Christie’s handpicked chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, was also involved in the closings, according to the emails, which describe his efforts to “retaliate” against New York officials who had not been told of the changes and sought to ease the gridlock.
The emails indicate that Mr. Christie’s staff and his associates at the Port Authority were closely aware of the political context. Mr. Christie, a Republican, was leaning on local Democratic officials to endorse his re-election bid so that he could then seek his party’s presidential nomination in 2016 by arguing that he was the candidate who could attract bipartisan support in a blue state.
The mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, is a Democrat and did not endorse Mr. Christie. In the emails and texts released Wednesday, Mr. Christie’s staff and appointees were gleeful when the abrupt lane closings gridlocked the town for four days, beginning with the first day of school and including the anniversary of Sept. 11. Mr. Sokolich, who had not been informed of the closings, texted Bill Baroni, the governor’s top appointee at the Port Authority, asking for “help” because the lane closings were making children on buses late to school.
“Is it wrong that I am smiling?” Mr. Wildstein texted Ms. Kelly.
“No,” she texted back.
“I feel badly about the kids,” he texted.
“They are the children of Buono voters,” she said, referring to Mr. Christie’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, who was trailing consistently in the polls and lost by a wide margin.
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