Lane-Closing Controversy Threatens to Ensnare Chris Christie’s Administration
UPDATE: According to the Asbury Park Press — which obtained damning emails between Chris Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly and Christie port authority appointee David Wildstein — Christie has issued a statement and admitted that he was “misled” by a senior staffer who knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closures in question. He also claims to be very sad.
ORIGINAL: Remember a few weeks ago, when Chris Christie stood before the press and denied that his administration deliberately slowed traffic on the George Washington Bridge to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., over some disagreement?
Turns out Christie wasn’t entirely correct.
Private messages between Governor’s Christie’s deputy chief of staff and two of his top executives at the Port Authority reveal a vindictive effort to create “traffic problems in Fort Lee” by shutting lanes to the George Washington Bridge and apparent pleasure at the resulting gridlock.
The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how they tried to reach Port Authority officials in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000 which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest.
The documents obtained by The Record raise serious doubts about months of claims by the Christie administration that the September closures of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were part of a traffic study initiated solely by the Port Authority. Instead, they show that 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.
Now: No evidence so far that Christie himself was a direct participant in these efforts. But it appears that many senior members of his administration were. And after Christie has spent the last few years establishing his bonafides as a bit of a take-no-prisoners jerk—but he’s our jerk!—it’s going to be hard to argue that he didn’t at least set a tone emulated by his aides. That 2016 race against Hillary Clinton is going to get a little more difficult.