Documents released today implicate some of Chris Christie’s top aides in the George Washington Bridge closures that created a traffic nightmare for motorists last September. The tone and content of the documents leave little doubt that officials close to Chris Christie intentionally bottled up traffic on the George Washington Bridge to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) for not endorsing the Governor in 2013.
The Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote to a Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on August 13th, saying:
Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee
David Wildstein, the Christie appointee, she wrote to responded with the words:
The lanes were closed on September 9th, 2013 and re-opened on September 13th, 2013 ostensibly as part of a traffic study. However, the traffic study that was authorized was for Morris Avenue in Springfield, New Jersey, located more than 25 miles from the bridge where the lanes where closed.
The correspondence between Christie officials and appointees revealed that they expressed glee with the havoc they had caused in Fort Lee. When the Fort Lee Mayor expressed frustration because of the traffic problems, Christie appointee Wildstein quipped to an unidentified third party (some of the report is redacted):
Is it wrong that I am smiling?
The response came back:
Then when Wildstein joked:
I feel badly about the kids. I guess.
His response was met with another joke:
They are the children of Buono voters
Barbara Buono was Chris Christie’s Democratic opponent for Governor in 2013.
The document also shows that when Wildstein informed Kelly that the lanes had been re-opened she replied with a stunned:
This remark came after Wildstein told her that:
The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts. Samson (a Christie appointee at the Port Authority) helping us to retaliate.
The correspondence also revealed Christie’s Chief of Staff referring to Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich as an “idiot” and Wildstein gleefully remarking that:
It will be a tough November for this little Serbian.
While Chris Christie has argued that the bridge closures were part of a traffic study, and that they were not intended as political retaliation against Sokolich, the evidence continues to mount that the closures were a vindictive attempt by Christie aides and appointees to punish him for not supporting Chris Christie’s re-election bid.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.