I haven’t written about the forced traffic jams in Fort Lee because, while the speculation that it was done for political revenge against Fort Lee’s anti-Christie mayor was plausible there wasn’t really any evidence to support it. Well, that’s changed:
A series of newly obtained emails and text messages shows that Gov. Chris Christie’s office was closely involved with lane closings 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 closings, 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’s office, gave a signal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close the lanes about two weeks before the closings 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, which controls the bridge.
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 closings gridlocked the town for four days, beginning with the first day of school and including the anniversary of Sept. 11. Mr. Sokolich, who had not been informed of the closings, texted the governor’s top appointee at the Port Authority asking for “help” because the lane closings 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.
This unnecessary damage inflicted on Fort Lee residents and other commuters and travelers is classically Nixonian in that it was bullying as an end in itself, not for any real political purpose. Christie’s re-election was not going to depend on getting the endorsement of the mayor of Fort Lee and was not in any doubt in any case. He did it because he can. You can see why he’s such a darling in the Republican Party…