New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is having a rough few months. He didn’t get the Republican nomination, he didn’t get the VP nod, and now Bridgegate is looking even worse for him.
David Wildstein appeared in federal court to explain the origins of a scandal that would derail Chris Christie’s dreams of being president. Wildstein helped conceive of the plan and realized it could be a useful tool for the governor’s re-election campaign.
‘He also said Mr. Christie’s former campaign manager, one of the governor’s closest confidants and now a top adviser to Donald J. Trump, knew about the scheme to close the lanes before it occurred and that the plan was meant as political retribution.
‘The bridge manager explained to Mr. Wildstein that the lanes were used to ease congestion from traffic flowing though the town of Fort Lee. They were the result of a deal between a long-ago mayor of the town and a former governor of New Jersey.
‘Mr. Wildstein quickly recognized that the lanes could be a point of leverage for Mr. Christie, who had been wooing the mayor of Fort Lee to endorse his re-election in 2013.’
It’s already been revealed that Chris Christie knew about the scheme, but now we’ve learned a bit more about the scheme. It turns out that it was little more than a petty spiteful act of revenge meant to punish Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, for his refusal to endorse him for re-election.
Wildstein went onto explain the deteriorating relationship between Mr. Sokolich and the governor’s office and admitted that the idea to close the bridge came from him.
‘…Just after the June primary, Mr. Sokolich fell out of favor. The governor’s office instructed the Port Authority to ignore Mr. Sokolich’s requests for money and help.
‘”Mayor Sokolich was no longer on the favored mayors list, as it was explained to me,” Mr. Wildstein said.
‘”Ms. Kelly wasn’t happy that Mayor Sokolich was not coming on board,” he said, at a time when many other Democratic mayors and officials already had. He reminded her that the Port Authority could “close down those Fort Lee lanes as pressure on Mayor Sokolich,” he said. “I left it open-ended, and if it was needed, to let me know.”‘
Despite it being Wildstein’s idea, even he was apparently taken aback by the timing and bluntness of the plan. He had suggested it be used as a threat to coerce the Fort Lee mayor into an endorsement, but Chris Christie planned to use it as a way to punish the mayor for his lack of support.
‘But Mr. Wildstein said he was taken aback when Ms. Kelly’s blunt email arrived at 7:34 a.m. on Aug. 13: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
‘”I remember thinking that I was a little surprised it was this late that the point of leverage with Mayor Sokolich would be exercised,” he said.
‘Still, he understood what she meant. “She told me the reason was to send Mayor Sokolich a message,” Mr. Wildstein said. “The indication was that Mayor Sokolich needed to fully understand that life would be more difficult for him in the second Christie term than it had been in the first.”‘
Using it as a threat to gain political leverage is bad enough, but the fact that Chris Christie was willing to use it as a form of payback is possibly worse. It was the act of a petty, spiteful man who isn’t worthy of a governorship let alone the presidency.
In case you think this was a simple inconvenience for the people of New Jersey, keep in mind that a woman died as result of the traffic jams caused by the bridge closings. The woman’s daughter said she doesn’t blame the bridge closing for her mother’s death due to her advanced age, but the delays certainly didn’t help. Chris Christie and his cronies might not bear the legal responsibility for her death, but, in our opinion, they bear at least some moral responsibility considering the bridge would not have been closed without their actions.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops, but right now things aren’t looking good for Chris Christie. It seems like his only hope might be a pardon from Trump, but, perhaps Christie should ask some of Trump’s contractors how reliable a benefactor he is.