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Emails Tie Top Christie Aide to Lane Closings, Despite Denials


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, bridge land closing, Chris Christie, controversey, emails, corruption, dishonesty, politics )

Kit
- 205 days ago - nytimes.com
A series of newly obtained emails shows that Gov. Chris Christie's office was closely involved with lane closures on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September, and that officials closed the lanes in what appeared to be[....]



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Kit B. (277)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 8:06 am
Image Credit: blog.northjersey.com


A series of newly obtained emails shows that Gov. Chris Christie’s office was closely involved with lane closures on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September, and that officials closed the lanes in what appeared to be retribution against the mayor whose town was gridlocked as a result.

Mr. Christie has insisted that his staff and his campaign office had nothing to do with the local lane closures, and said that they were done as part of a traffic study.

But the emails show that Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Christie, gave a signal to the Port Authority to close the lanes about two weeks before they occurred.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she emailed David Wildstein, Mr. Christie’s close friend from high school, and one of his appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.

After the emails were released on Wednesday, Mr. Christie canceled his one public event for the day, which had been billed as an announcement of progress in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Christie’s handpicked chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, was also involved in the closings, according to the emails, which describe his efforts to “retaliate” against New York officials who had not been told of the changes and sought to ease the gridlock.

The emails indicate that Mr. Christie’s staff and his associates at the Port Authority were closely aware of the political context. Mr. Christie, a Republican, was leaning on local Democratic officials to endorse his re-election bid so that he could then seek his party’s presidential nomination by arguing that he was the candidate who could attract bipartisan support in a blue state.

The mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, is a Democrat and did not endorse Mr. Christie. In the emails and texts released Wednesday, Mr. Christie’s staff and appointees were gleeful when the abrupt lane closures gridlocked the town for four days, beginning with the first day of school and including the anniversary of 9/11. Mr. Sokolich, who had not been informed of the closures, texted the governor’s top appointee at the Port Authority asking for “help” because the lane closures were making children on buses late to school.

“Is it wrong that I am smiling?” Mr. Wildstein texted Ms. Kelly.

“No,” she texted back.

“I feel badly about the kids,” he texted.

“They are the children of Buono voters,” she said, referring to Mr. Christie’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, who was trailing consistently in the polls and lost by a wide margin.

Ms. Kelly is one of three deputy chiefs of staff in Mr. Christie’s office, and a close member of his team. Her Twitter timeline includes pictures of her celebrating her 40th birthday last year with the governor and other members of his staff.

After the lane closures were reversed by New York officials at the Port Authority, New Jersey officials expressed panic that their plan was not causing enough trouble.

“The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts,” Mr. Wildstein wrote to Ms. Kelly. “Samson helping us to retaliate.”

“What??” she emailed back.

“Yes, unreal. Fixed now,” he emailed.

Mr. Sokolich texted Bill Baroni, Mr. Christie’s chief appointee at the Port Authority, later that month seeking to understand why the lanes were closed, and said that people were saying it was “punishment.”

“Try as I may to dispel these rumors I am having a tough time,” he wrote.

Mr. Baroni, Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein showed some alarm, swearing and discussing how they could avoid him while also quieting the growing controversy.

The documents were obtained by the New York Times and other news outlets Wednesday. They are heavily redacted by Port Authority officials, who turned them over under a subpoena from Democratic legislators investigating the lane closures, making it hard to determine in some cases who is speaking.

But they indicate that Mr. Christie’s staff, appointees at the Port Authority and his campaign office were all intimately involved in discussing the growing scandal and how to react to it as early as October. One series of text messages between Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein indicates that in early August, at the same time they were discussing the plan for the lane closures, they were trying to set up a meeting between Mr. Christie and Mr. Samson. It is not clear, however, that the meeting was regarding the lane closures, although later emails make clear that Mr. Samson was involved in those plans.

Mr. Baroni and Mr. Wildstein resigned their positions in December as the scandal threatened Mr. Christie’s political fortunes.
******

By: By KATE ZERNIKEJAN | The New York Times |
 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 8:08 am

Oh my fur and whiskers, I do believe Christie has fried a fine kettle of fish. This just might finally bring an analysis of those "missing" funds allocated for Sandy Relief.
 

Debbie Williamson (261)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 8:28 am
Big childish bully. I hope you're right, Kit.
 

Melva H. (93)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 10:38 am
Surely, you jest! A below-the-belt 'dirty trick' from the Party that claims title of 'Family Values'?? My. MY!
 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 10:48 am

Caught - meet red hand.
 

Carrie B. (305)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 11:45 am
Oh my! Aren't we all surprised? No!
 

pam w. (191)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 2:36 pm
Carrie & I are gasping in shock!
 

Terry King (108)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 2:53 pm
Christie has always been a double dealer.
 

Past Member (0)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 3:19 pm
Thanks Kit. We have been following this "saga" on Rachel's show. The plot keeps continuing to thicken.
 

Arielle S. (316)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 4:06 pm
Sneaky, underhanded behavior from a Republican?? Gosh, what a surprise....
 

. (0)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 4:37 pm
What a sneaky thing to do! Thanks for sharing, Kit.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 4:53 pm
Seems like a children's game with abuse of power in childish yet corrupt retaliation--who needs Mafia-type organized crime in NJ when you have this?
 

Mitchell D. (129)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 5:56 pm
Melva, why have I not seen you here, before? On the money?!
Oh, maybe I ought not refer to money, as per Kit's comment.
NEVER buy into this guy's P.R./ propaganda machine's BS, please!
He is a nasty, manipulative,lying politician...oops, I did not really mean to paint a picture of the Republican (un)soul, it just came out of me unbidden.
You know what is "Stronger than the storm"? The smell of ethics rotting!
 

Melva H. (93)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 8:44 pm
Beats me, Mitchell. I flit around this site. We just never ran into each other. I would never assume Christie was
telling the Truth.
 

Ashley heffner (450)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 9:40 pm
Christie is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
 

Ganaisha Calvin (6)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 10:31 pm
thanks for sharing
 

Donn M. (1)
Wednesday January 8, 2014, 10:35 pm
'Wonder if he borrowed this aide from Obama?
 

Melva H. (93)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 7:12 am
You're making progress, Donn! You've updated to blambing Obama, instead of the Clintons, Congrats.
 

Jason R. (57)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 9:19 am
I don't believe him for a minute as he just threw his people under the bus. Now they have to worry about disappearing..

Donn's all foxed up, eh? Sad and shallow.
 

Kit B. (277)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 9:39 am

As per the "boiler plate" of political denials, Christie's press conference this morning was totally predictable. If he didn't know then he as governor needs to get his house in order, if he did know this is some very despicable and underhanded lying to the public.
 

Melva H. (93)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 9:50 am
Take your spamming somewhere else, Jamie S.; leave Care2 members alone!!
 

Suzanne O. (32)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 11:23 am
Maybe Governor Christie found out about it from news reports. That seems to be a believable excuse these days. Not good enough for him to use as well.

I didn't see the press conference. I was working. To me, this all speaks of typical New Jersey politics.

The democrats have been looking for red meat to discredit the Governor and they are gnawing hard on this one. I wish they would get as passionate about lowering our property taxes and other taxes that they have killed this state with over the years. They certainly could never be accused of political retribution. They are pillars of class and high morals, of course.

I worked up in Fort Lee for a few years and there is always traffic on these roads. Accidents, weather, construction, lane closings. It happens a lot. While this act by some is reprehensible. I do not think the Governor orchestrated it.

While I think this is beyond stupid and reckless on the part of those involved. I don't think Christie with his national ambitions would be so stupid. He has fired the main person to date that seems to be behind it. More than I can say for other politicians. I think he is a loyal guy and believed what his staff told him about this. He shouldn't have. He does need to get his house in order and seems to be doing that with this firing.

As far as missing Sandy money. Hmm...do we have evidence that there is money missing? Pretty serious allegations there. Although being dispersed slowly, way to slow for many. I am curious, how much is missing? Where do you think it is? Who are your sources for such serious allegations to be made with so much certainty?

While this event is apparently huge news for the nation. It is a distraction, it is a political ball now to be bounced around, which will serve no one well. The democrats have their meat and will use it until there is no more to be found. They have wanted to discredit Christie, stop him. Let's see how it works out. From the radio station I was listening to coming home from work. It seems New Jerseyans know what the deal is with this. Most still stand firm behind the Governor.

I wish our democrats would fill our 3 Supreme Court seats which have remained vacant for quite some ime now do to political retribution against our Governor. I wish serious talks and action would take place to lower our property taxes which truly are forcing people out of their homes. I wish a lot of things to which the democrats in this state just do not listen to.

Wisniewski and Lesniak stood on our state capital steps while union protestors were marching and declared their solidarity with them, the middle class. The problem is the only middle class they give a crap about are the unionized middle. Private sector, small business middle class can pound salt for all they care. I can not forgive them for that.

I have not been following this all that closely. I will now because it is such big news.

I wouldn't write him off just yet though.
 

Kit B. (277)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 11:28 am

Christie has made an apology and said that he very disappointed in his staff. I would expect that some people will be looking for work this time tomorrow.

When Obama says he is sorry or didn't know; I don't feel much sympathy, it's his job to know.

When Rick Perry says he doesn't know - I just nod. Of course he doesn't.
 

Suzanne O. (32)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 12:10 pm
Kit, I am not happy about this at all. It is something that just should not take place. Here in New Jersey it is the way of life since the beginning of time. Both sides with the democrats surely in the lead of deceitful behavior. Just google Hudson Country.

New Jerseyans deserve so much better than we ever get.

This is just pathetic and embarrassing and certainly not representative of anything I believe in. It disgusts me. Such foolishness.

The way this incident will be handled and the spew that sputters about will be even more distasteful. Unfortunately, I do not believe honest concern is at the root of the angst. It is political and so useful for so many statewide and on a national level.

I was actually coming back here to say something else but felt I should respond to you.

This is purely political and will be used by democrats and the hard right to discredit Governor Christie.

I do have to admit though, until I see something that is clear evidence that he directly orchestrated or covered this up I will still consider him to be my best hope. I admit my bias. I believe in Christie. I haven't believed in any one for a long time now. I hope I am not disappointed.

Kind of sad...

All this over nonsense and childlike behavior. Disgusting.
 

Dandelion G. (382)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 12:38 pm
Rachel Maddow has been doing a good job covering this story well before other news had picked up on it. It's a hot story for sure now and the heat is all around Christie. Whether he personally had any knowledge or not; it is the caliber of people that he has working around him or for him as staff. Doesn't bode well for him, he either has a poor judgement of character, is deaf dumb and blind (which I find that doubtful) or he isn't telling the full truth in this. In any case, he being the head of the State isn't doing a good job, there are still questions in regards of Sandy funds.
 

Melva H. (93)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 3:32 pm
Er, Kit. Obama is required to know everything about everyone in government and everyone who works for anyone in government; Christie needn't know anything about his own staff?. Interesting assessment of the difference between being a Democrat and being a Rebublican, don't you think??
 

Diane O. (149)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 4:20 pm
Obama has been our "asleep at the wheel President" so I don't believe for a nano second that anyone in the White House places any importance on what Obama thinks or says he knows. Obama stood before the American people as early as 2010 and told Americans they would not lose their health insurance and he lied. There's nothing any of you can say to negate that fact. So, why did he not disclose that important information? He is at Obama's feet. Nothing and I mean nothing you can say can take that fact away.

As far as Christie is concerned, he has never been on my top 10 list so, like the rest of the country, I'll wait to see it all unfold. The one blatant negative about Christie is that he makes it all about himself and he talks to much and too long and to me that's a red flag. I believe where there's smoke there's fire.

Christie didn't know anything about his own staff? Really? Look at Obama. Tell me that Obama is on top of his duties as a president and then get back to me. This isn't about a democrat or a republican. It is all about the character of a person. Lies, lies and more lies.....in our own administration since 2008 so why are you tagging a republican? The truth will come out. Until then we can offer our personal opinions. What we know is that Obama lied to the American people more than 30 times about the ACA. Not good as the polls reflect. Books are being written about Obama by those up close and personal. All any of us can do is wait.....and focus on the 2014 election. The American people have a way of deciding who they believe are telling the truth and those who are the liars.
 

Melva H. (93)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 6:22 pm
Thanks, Diane O, for your unbiased, straight-down-the-middle, fair-minded assessment.
Even with a couple of cracked ribs, I needed a good giggle; you provided it.
 

Laura H. (876)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 6:34 pm
The right wing radical fringe and baggers ALWAYS do the same thing; deny, deflect, distract. They NEVER stay on topic; they cannot defend their party with facts so they point the finger at the President; and spew garbage based on lies.
It is all they have.

This is about Christie; NOT the POTUS. STAY ON THE TOPIC FOR ONCE.

While MSNBC and CNN had live coverage of Christie; Fox news was putting down the POTUS-BIG surprise!!

NOT!!!
Fox 'news' knew Christie would put his foot in his mouth several times so it is easier for them to edit the press conference to make him look innocent.
 

Heidi Aubrey (5)
Thursday January 9, 2014, 8:02 pm
He (Christie) was no less unaware of what happened than he was about the freezing weather in his state. He should remembered this way if he has the nerve to actually run for president. He showed his true colors to the public. I will personally remember him as a shyster politician who does consider himself to be above the law. One who blatantly bullies himself around at the cost of the public welfare.
 

Diane O. (149)
Saturday January 11, 2014, 3:52 pm
The Obama supporters and his administration have raised the bar on acknowledging and denying that President Obama is incompetent. I believe Christie was mirroring Obama in an obvious way by showcasing during his long public explanation that he is a leader...will accept the blame and will fire those involved. Obama doesn't have the, shall I say, "desire" to do anything worthwhile for the American people. He stood before all of us as early as 2010 and LIED to us that no one would lose their private health insurance. He knew it then but nary a peep from his lips until after the 2012 election. What would the liberals say to that? Thousands lost their health insurance and Obama hoodwinked the American people all in the name of winning the 2012 election. Had Obama told the truth, Romney and his beautiful wife would be sitting in Washington DC today.

A snake in a grass is just that....Obama is now a certified liar. NO ONE has proven thus far that Christie lied. If he lied then he has to face the consequences. Obama, however, faces no consequences to his lies which have destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans who go to bed at night and wake up in the morning without health insurance AND/OR the Obamacare premiums are higher than they were paying with a much higher out of pocket deductible that they cannot afford.

I believe we will witness yet another tsunami vote by the American people in November which will mirror the 2010 election. Never underestimate the grassroots Americans.....they are a vital and strong force in our country.
 
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