This website has taken a dim view of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – the establishment “Republican” frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race.
As far as we’re concerned Christie is a fatter version of Mitt Romney, a younger version of John McCain and a straighter version of Lindsey Graham – which means he’s no friend of the free market, your liberties or your tax dollars. Of course he’s “electable,” or at least that’s what the GOP establishment would have you believe.
Which is precisely what they had you believe about Romney …
Anyway … it turns out Christie may be a bit vindictive, too, as evidenced by a brewing scandal over the closure of several local access ramps to the George Washington Bridge last year.
Christie has previously stated his administration had nothing to do with the lane closures – which created huge traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey leaving commuters stuck in traffic for hours on end.
According to emails obtained by multiple news outlets, though, one of Christie’s top aides – Bridget Anne Kelly – told an executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last summer that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
“Got it,” the executive replied.
Three weeks later, that same executive ordered the lane closures – claiming they were part of a study of “traffic safety patterns at the George Washington Bridge to ensure proper placement of toll lanes.”
The real reason the lanes were closed? Political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee – who refused to support Christie’s 2013 reelection bid. In fact in addition to shutting down the lanes, Kelly and the Port Authority official exchanged emails regarding their plan to maintain “radio silence” in response to Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich’s impassioned pleas to end the gridlock caused by the lane closures.
“His name comes right after mayor Fulop,” the port official emailed Kelly, referring to Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop – another local elected official who has accused Christie of targeting him for political retaliation.
Even more damning, there’s a text exchange between the port authority official and an individual whose name has been redacted in which the lane closings are celebrated.
“Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” the sender of the messages wrote to the port authority official.
“No,” he responded.
“I feel badly about the kids,” the sender replied. “I guess.”
The official responds that “they are the children of Buono voters,” referring to Barbara Buono – the Democratic gubernatorial nominee trounced by Christie last November.
Christie hasn’t been directly linked to the scandal, and we’re sure the national GOP establishment will compel any “Republican” within a fifty-mile radius of the state capital in Trenton to dutifully fall on their swords for him. But still … wow.
Obviously politics is bloodsport – and such pettiness among elected officials (and the operatives who work for them) is routine. But this isn’t messing around in an election or getting somebody’s brother’s cousin fired from a job – this is screwing with the lives of ordinary people who are already screwed over enough by their leaders.
The busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, the George Washington Bridge (or the “GW” or “GWB”) connects the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan to Fort Lee, New Jersey. The fourteen-lane, double-decked steel suspension bridge opened in 1931.
UPDATE: Christie has issued a statement saying “this behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”
UPDATE II: Our follow-up report …