New e-mails and text messages reveal that people close to Governor Chris Christie discussed closing parts of the George Washington Bridge in a way that affected certain parts of New Jersey, which critics saw as political payback for a local mayor who supported his Democratic opponent in last year’s gubernatorial election. The shutting down of the lanes in September caused traffic problems for the city of Fort Lee, on the New Jersey side of the bridge.
The Bergen County Record reports that Christie’s deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and Port Authority executive David Wildstein, who made the actual decision, discussed closing a lane on the bridge in August, weeks before the actual closure. According to e-mails obtained by the newspaper, Kelly told Wildstein, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” ”Got it,” Wildstein replied.
In another exchange in September, Wildstein sent text messages to an unspecified person during the week the lanes were closed, the first week of school. “Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” the unspecified person said; “I feel badly for the kids. I guess,” another text message read. “They are the children of Buono voters,” Wildstein responded, referring to Christie’s Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono.
Christie has denied that his administration was in the closures at all, adding that he personally was unaware of it until the controversy surfaced. Other officials have claimed the lanes were shut down as part of a traffic study, but little evidence has been provided to support that contention.
For more, see the Record’s full story, which includes a comprehensive timeline of the events and other correspondence among officials.