Chris Christie Administration Implicated in a Very ‘New Jersey’ Scandal

Did the governor’s office order traffic congestion to get back at Fort Lee’s mayor? It doesn’t look good.

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attends a statewide prayer service at the New Hope Baptist Church on the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy on October 29, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29 near Brigantine, New Jersey and affected 24 states from Florida to Maine and cost the country an estimated $65 billion.
National Journal
Brian Resnick
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Brian Resnick
Jan. 8, 2014, 5:46 a.m.

New Jer­sey’s The Re­cord news­pa­per is out today with an al­leg­a­tion against Gov. Chris Christie that has everything: a tale of pay­back and bump­er-to-bump­er traffic.

Here’s the claim: The Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion in­ten­tion­ally closed ac­cess lanes to the George Wash­ing­ton Bridge from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13 to cre­ate traffic prob­lems in Fort Lee, N.J.

What did Fort Lee do to de­serve this? Ac­cord­ing to The Re­cord, its may­or did not en­dorse Christie for reelec­tion.

The plot of this epis­ode fol­lows an al­most Sein­fel­dian lo­gic, in which petty digs are settled via grand ges­tures. Spec­u­la­tion has been brew­ing for a while that the ad­min­is­tra­tion was in­volved, but today dir­ect ties between the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Port Au­thor­ity, which closed the lanes, were re­vealed.

The Re­cord learned of this through leaked emails from the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion that show “one of the gov­ernor’s top aides was deeply in­volved in the de­cision to choke off the bor­ough’s ac­cess to the bridge, and they provide the strongest in­dic­a­tion yet that it was part of a polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated ven­detta — a no­tion that Christie has pub­licly denied.” Christie, the pa­per re­ports, had denied that his ad­min­is­tra­tion played a role to play in the lane clos­ings, which are tech­nic­ally part of a Port Au­thor­ity traffic study.

The emails them­selves are pretty damning. Here’s a tran­script of one.


Dav­id Wild­stein

To: Brid­get Anne Kelly

Got it

On Aug 13, 2013, at 7:34 AM, Brid­get Anne Kelly wrote:

>Time for some traffic prob­lems in Fort Lee.

Dav­id Wild­stein was a Port Au­thor­ity ex­ec­ut­ive with ties to Christie. Brid­get Anne Kelly is a staff mem­ber in the gov­ernor’s of­fice. Wild­stein was the one who ordered the traffic study. Be­fore the email leaks, it was only sus­pec­ted that the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion had a hand in the clos­ures. These emails, however, are seem­ingly the first hard evid­ence to dir­ectly link the of­fice to the lanes-clos­ing plan.

In an­oth­er ob­tained mes­sage, Wild­stein replied to a per­son who wrote “Is it wrong that I’m smil­ing” re­gard­ing the res­ult­ing traffic cluster in Fort Lee. Wild­stein replied “No.”

Christie has can­celed a pub­lic ap­pear­ance for Wed­nes­day.

Wild­stein resigned from his post in Decem­ber cit­ing the lane con­tro­versy as a “dis­trac­tion.” When The New York Times asked him in Decem­ber wheth­er the gov­ernor was in­volved he replied, “You really are not ser­i­ous with that ques­tion.”

Well, now it’s a ser­i­ous ques­tion.

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