Recent rumors alleging that Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) was involved in a plot to punish a local Democratic mayor became much more serious Wednesday after emails that may tie his staff to the scheme were uncovered.
"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's deputy chief of staff, wrote in an Aug. 13 email to former Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein.
What followed next was days of crippling lane closure-related traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge, the “world's busiest motor vehicle bridge.”
And there does seem to be a certain level of coordination between the governor’s office and Wildstein, an important Christie ally, over the lane closures, according to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
Here are the communications between Christie’s office and the Port Authority:
It’s believed Christie’s office may have ordered the Fort Lee lockup to punish the borough’s Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, for refusing to endorse the governor in his re-election bid against Democrat Barbara Buono.
Sokolich’s decision was unique in that it made him one of the few Democratic municipal officials in the state to not endorse the popular Republican governor.
“I feel badly about the kids. I guess,” an unidentified author wrote in an email to Wildstein, referring to the Sokolich’s task of trying to figure out how to get students to and from school.
“They are the children of Buono voters,” Wildstein replied, referring to the governor’s re-election opponent.
Wildstein was forced to turn the communications over to a New Jersey State Assembly committee in compliance with a subpoena, the Bergen Record reported.
“Christie has previously said that no one on his legislative or campaign staff was involved in the lane closures. He also brushed off questions in December on the topic by joking that he moved the cones himself,” Business Insider noted.
However, the recently uncovered emails show that Kelly "was involved in the planning and received updates during the week of the traffic jams," the Bergen Record report added.
Further, according to the same report, Kelly reportedly knew Christie’s allies at the Port Authority were intentionally "ignoring the Fort Lee mayor’s desperate attempts to get a reason for the sudden unannounced closures."
Now, it could be that the language in the recently unearthed communications between Christie’s office and the Port Authority has been misinterpreted and that there was no scheme to destroy Fort Lee with traffic.
But based on the scarcity of denials from Christie’s allies and the fact that the governor's office abruptly cancelled all scheduled events Wednesday after the emails were published, the abuse of power rumors could be much more serious than originally thought.
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