Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christie Bridge Scandal: Aides Were Gleeful About Gridlock

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) loves to throw tantrums at teachers. His administration has taken on his bullying ways, as revealed by the growing scandal over the closing of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge. The move caused massive traffic gridlock, all to exact revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ, who didn't endorse Christie's re-election. While Christie states that he was misled, a series of damning staff emails and texts spells bad news for his potential Republican presidential candidacy:

The mystery of who closed two lanes onto the George Washington Bridge — turning the borough of Fort Lee, N.J., into a parking lot for four days in September — exploded into a full-bore political scandal for Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday, when emails and texts revealed that a top aide had ordered the closings to punish the town’s mayor after he did not endorse the governor for re-election.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, emailed David Wildstein, a high school friend of the governor who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge.

Later text messages mocked concerns that school buses filled with students were stuck in gridlock: “They are the children of Buono voters,” Mr. Wildstein wrote, referring to Mr. Christie’s opponent Barbara Buono.

The emails are striking in their political maneuvering, showing Christie aides gleeful about the chaos that resulted, including emergency vehicles delayed in responding to three people with heart problems and a missing toddler, as well as commuters fuming. One of the governor’s associates refers to the mayor of Fort Lee as “this little Serbian,” and Ms. Kelly exchanges messages about the plan while she is in line to pay her respects at a wake.

...While the emails do not establish that the governor himself called for the lane closings, they show his staff was intimately involved, contrary to Mr. Christie’s repeated avowals that no one in his office or campaign knew about them. In fact, the emails show, several staff members and appointees worked to cover up the scheme under the ruse that it was a traffic study. The disclosing of the emails will probably intensify an investigation into the lane closing by the Port Authority Inspector General’s office, which opened a formal inquiry in December.

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