Could ‘Bridgegate’ Derail Governor Christie? [POLL]
A fish stinks from the head down – and this one stinks to high heaven.
This morning, a series of emails have been released tying top Port Authority officials linked closely to the Governor with closing the local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge back in September – reportedly to get back at the mayor of Ft. Lee for not endorsing the candidacy of the Governor in his landslide victory over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.
It never made any sense to me that the Governor or those working under him would have had to stoop to such a level over the non endorsement of a municipal official – but apparently that’s the way this is all looking.
Do you believe the Governor had anything to do with closing the lanes to the bridge in retribution for not receiving the endorsement of the Ft. Lee mayor?
If not, then it would follow that since credibility is at such a premium these days in Washington DC; could you honestly think that our Governor would be fit to hold the highest office in the land given this development?
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.
After the emails were released on Wednesday, Mr. Christie canceled his one public event for the day, which had been billed as an announcement of progress in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
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 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 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.
(How messed up is that!)
Ms. Kelly is one of three deputy chiefs of staff in Mr. Christie’s office, and a close member of his team. Her Twitter timeline includes pictures of her celebrating her 40th birthday last year with the governor and other members of his staff.
After the lane closings were reversed by New York officials at the Port Authority, New Jersey officials expressed panic that their plan was not causing enough trouble.
“The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts,” Mr. Wildstein wrote to Ms. Kelly. “Samson helping us to retaliate.”
“What??” she emailed back.
“Yes, unreal. Fixed now,” he emailed.
Mr. Sokolich texted Bill Baroni, Mr. Christie’s chief appointee at the Port Authority, later that month seeking to understand why the lanes were closed, and said that people were saying it was “punishment.”
“Try as I may to dispel these rumors I am having a tough time,” he wrote.
Mr. Baroni, Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein showed some alarm, swearing and discussing how they could avoid him while also quieting the growing controversy.
The documents were obtained by The New York Times and other news outlets Wednesday. They are heavily redacted by Port Authority officials, who turned them over under a subpoena from Democratic legislators investigating the lane closings, making it hard to determine in some cases who is speaking.
But they indicate that Mr. Christie’s staff, appointees at the Port Authority and his campaign office were all intimately involved in discussing the growing scandal and how to react to it as early as October. One series of text messages between Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein indicates that in early August, at the same time they were discussing the plan for the lane closings, they were trying to set up a meeting between Mr. Christie and Mr. Samson.
It is not clear, however, that the meeting was regarding the lane closings, although later emails make clear that Mr. Samson was involved in those plans.
Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein resigned their positions in December as the scandal threatened Mr. Christie’s political fortunes.
It time to put the cute answers aside about “putting the cones down myself” and get down to brass tacks. We need to know what the Governor knew about the lane closures and what hand he had in it.
A non answer by the Governor’s office screams coverup.
And the only lesson one could cull from this is “Power corrupts!”
Do you believe Governor Christie when he said he had nothing to do with the Ft Lee lane closures to the George Washington Bridge?