Messages link Christie aide to traffic jam

Emails suggest deputy chief of staff took punitive action against N.J. mayor
Associated Press
Jan 8, 2014

A political furor surrounding Gov. Chris Christie intensified Wednesday with the release of emails and text messages that suggest one of his top aides deliberately created traffic jams in a New Jersey town last September to punish its mayor.

An "outraged and deeply saddened" Christie said he was misled by his aide, and he denied any involvement in the apparent act of political payback.

The messages were obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations Wednesday amid a statehouse investigation into the whether the huge traffic backup was retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"Got it," Wildstein replied. A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City.

The messages do not directly implicate Christie in the shutdown. But they contradict his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved.

Democrats seized on the material as more evidence that the potential Republican candidate for president in 2016 is a bully.

The messages "indicate what we've come to expect from Gov. Christie — when people oppose him, he exacts retribution. When people question him, he belittles and snidely jokes. And when anyone dares to look into his administration, he bullies and attacks," Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Christie said: "I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge."

"People will be held responsible for their actions," he added, but gave no details.

Kelly had no immediate comment.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich called it "appalling" that the traffic jams appear to have been engineered.

"When it's man-made and when it was done with venom and when it was done intentionally, it is, in my mind, the prime example of political pettiness," he said. He said the gridlock put people in danger by holding up emergency vehicles, and he added that those responsible should resign.

While Sokolich is a Democrat, Christie sought bipartisan support during his re-election campaign to bolster his image as a pragmatic leader willing to work with his political opponents.

Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been leading the investigation, said the material in the documents is "shocking" and "outrageous" and calls into question the honesty of the governor and his staff.

The traffic jams occurred between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13. Port Authority officials later said the closings were part of a traffic study. But no study has been produced.

As the controversy heated up over the past few weeks, Wildstein resigned, as did Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee. Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, is scheduled to testify on Thursday before a state Assembly committee but is fighting the subpoena.

One of the released texts came from Sokolich, who pleaded on the morning of Sept. 10: "The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Help please. It's maddening."

Within minutes of Sokolich's plea, an unidentified person commented in a text message: "Is it wrong that I am smiling?" Someone joked in another text that the youngsters referred to by Sokolich "are the children of Buono voters" — a reference to Christie's Democratic opponent for governor, state Sen. Barbara Buono.

Also among the correspondence, some of which was blacked out, is an email from Wildstein to Kelly on Sept. 7, two days before the lane closings. He said he would call her "to let you know how Fort Lee goes."

Most of the emails were sent using private accounts rather than government ones, which would be subject to open records laws and therefore public.

The Democratic National Committee seized on the disclosures, releasing a web video that details Christie's prior assurances that neither he nor his staff had anything to do with the lane closings.

"I've made it to very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it, and they've all assured me that they don't," Christie said in mid-December.

Wasserman-Schultz said the new material proves that "the governor's office ordered lane closures that were intended to make first responders experience delays, kids sit gridlocked on the first day of school, and commuters hit logjams, to punish the Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Chris Christie's re-election bid."

Sokolich said that because of the traffic backup, emergency calls that average a two- or four-minute response time took up to 16 minutes.

"To me it's appalling and I got to tell you, somebody owes a lot of people a lot of apologies," he said. "Somebody ought to contact families waiting two, three, four times the response times when their loved ones had chest pains. Someone has to apologize to the thousands of families who couldn't get their kids to the first day of school on time."

Fort Lee Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky said she knows of one woman who couldn't get over the bridge to be with her husband, who was undergoing a stem cell transplant, and another who couldn't get to New York to be with her son as he went through kidney dialysis.

Also, she said, the heavy traffic delayed the search for a missing child, who was later found.

"I think this is 10 times worse than Watergate. Because this affected so many more lives and their health and safety," she said.

 

Comments

Donegan

Try again, I refuse to watch the stuff on that channel either. Rhetoric is something this society could do without. What i cannot figure out is why the democrats have been attacking Christie, After all if it was actual retribution i think they would reward him like they do the rest of the liars and cheaters?
"We're gonna punish our enemies, and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us" B Obama.

Darwin's choice

More of the "Obama Liars Club", but this will be hushed up and overlooked by the usual suspect/obama smoochers here...youknowwho youare!

http://completecolorado.com/page...

Contango

Re: "fake IRS scandal"

Lois Lerner "took the fifth" why?

There you go again

How dare Christie's aide think he could get away with lying and coverup! Democrats are the only "folks" permitted to do that in this administration.

deertracker

It is not even close Sham since there was no IRS scandal involving the President. Saying it over and over and over does NOT make it true.

SamAdams

And there may not be any scandal involving Chris Christie, either!

Did Christie give the order? Maybe, maybe not. But if he DIDN'T give the order, why are so many people blaming him anyway? BECAUSE HE'S THE BOSS! The buck stops at his desk.

Did Obama give the order to IRS employees? Maybe, maybe not. But if he DIDN'T give the order, why isn't he still being held responsible? HE'S THE BOSS! Right???

deertracker

This is about Christie not Obama!

SamAdams

True. And if you're outraged, you're not alone. What happened, no matter HOW it happened, is reprehensible.

I'm not suggesting that Christie and/or his minions are blameless. I'm not suggesting whoever is involved shouldn't be punished. I'm merely pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of those who are castigating Christie (with good reason) yet who continue to extoll the virtues of their "god" Obama who's done the same or worse.

Contango

Re: "no IRS scandal involving the President."

What Executive cabinet dept. controls the IRS?

Darwin's choice

Did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bob: "Did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?"
Jim: "You mean the Mexican gun running?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean SEAL Team 6 Extortion 17?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the State Dept. lying about Benghazi?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the voter fraud?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the military not getting their votes counted?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president demoralizing and breaking down the military?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the Boston Bombing?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president wanting to kill Americans with drones in our own country without the benefit of the law?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "You mean the president arming the Muslim Brotherhood?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The IRS targeting conservatives?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The DOJ spying on the press?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "Sebelius shaking down health insurance executives?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The NSA monitoring our phone calls, e-mails and everything else?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's ordering the release of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants from jails and prisons and falsely blaming the seqester?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's threat to impose gun control by Executive Order in order to bypass Congress?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's repeated violation of the law requiring him to submit a budget no later than the first Monday in February?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The president's unconstitutional recess appointments in an attempt to circumvent the Senate's advise-and-consent role?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "The State Department interfering with an Inspector General investigation on departmental sexual misconduct?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "HHS employees being given insider information on Medicare Advantage?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "Clinton, the IRS, Clapper and Holder all lying to Congress?"
Bob: "No, the other one."
Jim: "I give up! ... Oh wait, I think I got it! You mean that 65 million low-information voters stuck us again with the most corrupt administration in American history?"
Bob: "THAT'S THE ONE!"

And the fools on the register blogs who drink up his every lie.....

WeThePeople1965

Anyone who engages in immature slights-of-hand such as this don't deserve to run for POTUS. The lengths people will go to get power is appalling.

Darwin's choice

And you're ok with Obama??

WeThePeople1965

Absolutely not, actually. I'm really not okay with any politician at this point.

Darwin's choice

I agree!!!!

Pterocarya frax...

Don't vote then.

WeThePeople1965

I really don't, when it comes to electing state and national politicians. I mainly vote on issues.

Donegan

"We're going to punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us" B. Obama
Whats that again Dog?

hilltop

"The messages "indicate what we've come to expect from Gov. Christie — when people oppose him, he exacts retribution. When people question him, he belittles and snidely jokes. And when anyone dares to look into his administration, he bullies and attacks," Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said."

Really?! Sounds a lot like the Obama administration. Anyone who dares to question such trivial matters as Bengazi or the lies told about our "new and improved" healthcare system are treated in a like manner.

It will take a Republican "bully" to defend himself against the gang of liberal thugs that have overrun Washington. Can't wait for him to wipe the smiles off their faces.

coasterfan

Meh. There are thugs on both sides of the aisle, but from where I'm sitting, there are far fewer on the Left. Democrats want to help the common man, and the Republicans do not. You don't have to look far for examples of that; this week, it's the fight over extending unemployment benefits, at a time when there are 3 unemployed people for every available job.

I don't see any indication that Republicans will retake the White House anytime soon. They are a shrinking demographic, and as long as the Electoral system is in place, they mathematically don't have a chance. They keep alienating everyone that they need to attract, and anytime a reasonable centrist candidate (like Christie) comes to the forefront, their wingnut fringe starts their attack. The party is torn by infighting, can't agree on a platform, and haven't learned a thing from the problems of the Bush presidency. To me, that means they are unfit to lead the country. IMHO, on his worst day, Obama is still a far better solution than anything the dysfunctional GOP has to offer.

Unfortunately, since we can't get most Republicans to even agree on the recent history (2009-present) that we ALL lived through, it's hard to have an intelligent discussion on anything related to politics. They have a peculiar knack for ignoring any and all signs that things have improved since the 2007-2008 recession.

Darwin's choice

You are full crap!!!

Boot licking obamabot.

How are those obamacare signup's going, cheerleader?
Are the number of welfare recipients still shooting up like a rocket?
And, what about all those jobs you've been bragging about?
How is that brand new car you let your wife buy? What was it? A yugo?
And, aren't you ready to buy a new home, being all those new ones getting built are ten or twenty times "greener" than that old hut your living in?
And, what about those four men killed in Benghazzi, that Obama didn't help? Didn't he leave them die for a fundraiser?

Keep spinning.

deertracker

You need to ask your doctor to increase the dosage of your lithium. You REALLY need it!

Darwin's choice

You also need an enema, you've got obama-itis bad!

santown419

When are you going to make the right choice and quit making up things. The false news Benghazi scandel was debunked in Dec. It was proven that the anti muslem video was to fault. And where was you when Benghazi was attacked before. You need to quit watching O'Reily and realize the spin and lies don't stop spinning with you.

Darwin's choice

Where "was" I? obamabot language there?

Video was the fault?

Low Informed Voter right there......!

You're exactly the reason that fool is in the white house!

Contango

Re: "from where I'm sitting, there are far fewer on the Left."

You need a better vantage point.

Shoving partisan Obama☭are down the throats of the American people was pure thuggery.

deertracker

How are you affected by the ACA?

Contango

Re: "How are you affected by the ACA?"

Previously asked and answered numerous times:

Lost our dental ins. in '12, due to the increased costs for the trust associated with the mandate allowing 26 yr. olds to be covered on the parents' health ins.

Any changes in Medicaid for you?

deertracker

So you lost your dental ins. because of the ACA!? You are such a liar pooh! what's Medicaid?

Contango

Re: "So you lost your dental ins. because of the ACA!? "

Yep!

What, did you think that the coverage for the under 26 yr olds on the parents' ins. was FREE?

There's 3 million of 'em. Pres. Obama needs 'em to help offset the cost of seniors and those with pre-ex on the exchanges.

Try to keep up would ya?

Enjoy your Medicaid.

deertracker

If you stop eating roaches and drinking Kessler's your teeth will not be a total loss!

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