Emails Show Christie Aides Discussing Political Payback
January 8, 2014 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
TRENTON, N.J. (UPI) — A new series of emails and text messages show top advisers to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were behind a traffic-snarling political retribution scheme.
In messages released to the media Wednesday after being subpoenaed by Democratic lawmakers investigating the growing scandal, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein, Christie’s childhood friend and a hand-picked member of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, discussed closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge in an attempt to snarl traffic in Fort Lee, where the town’s Democratic mayor had refused to support Christie’s re-election bid.
The New York Times reported emails, which were heavily redacted by the Port Authority at times making it difficult to decipher who was saying what, showed Kelly and Wildstein were keenly aware of the political context just weeks away from Christie’s re-election.
Christie had leaned hard on Democratic mayors to support his gubernatorial bid in an effort to make a presidential run in 2016 while showing voters he’s the candidate most able to attract Democratic support.
When Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to support Christie, the emails indicate Christie advisers sought retribution in the form of snarling traffic on the bridge. When Sokolich questioned the need for the lane closures he was brushed off, despite making the governor’s staff aware it was resulting in children being late for school.
“Is it wrong that I am smiling?” Wildstein texted Kelly after being told by another Christie Port Authority appointee about the schoolkids being late.
“No,” she texted back.
“I feel badly about the kids,” he texted.
“They are the children of Buono voters,” she said, referring to Christie’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, Christie easily defeated.
Furthermore, when Sokolich contacted Port Authority members from the New York side who had no idea why the lane closures had been ordered — and subsequently ordered them back open — the emails indicate members of Christie’s team moved swiftly to close the lanes again while seeking further retribution against the New York authority members who temporarily thwarted their plan.
The communications represent the clearest evidence yet Christie’s inner circle used public transportation as a political weapon, though the governor has steadfastly denied he and his staff had nothing to do with the lane closures.
After the messages were released, Christie’s office canceled his lone public event for the day, billed as an event to highlight the state’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy. He did not respond to requests for comment.