“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid the escalating scandal, wrote back: “Got it.”
Lanes on the George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey and New York, were reduced from three to one for four days in September, resulting in awful traffic problems in Fort Lee; the official explanation was that the lane closures were part of a traffic study. Democrats contend that the lane closures were a form of political retribution aimed at Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie during his reelection campaign. Christie offered a blanket denial:
“I don’t ever remember even meeting the mayor of Fort Lee and I certainly don’t remember getting any briefings at any time from campaign staff that this was someone who was on our radar screen as a potential endorser,” Christie said. “That’s why none of this makes any sense to me and I think in the end what it will be shown to be is rank speculation from folks who want to play political games.”
If the allegations are true, the lane closures would represent a petty and obnoxious abuse of authority, one worrisome in a potential president. Some may erroneously insist this is a display of toughness or hard-nosed political power, but the form of the vindictiveness punished Fort Lee commuters of all political stripes, not just the mayor. The state isn’t given the authority to shut down road lanes as a tool for enforcing political loyalty, and it’s rather shocking that this point needs to be made.
In other news, I am informed that objecting to this means you would prefer “a Sharon Angle-type” as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, and that it is “absurd” to “link” Christie to e-mails sent by his deputy chief of staff.
Perhaps this is all the work of rogue low-level employees in the Cincinnati office.