Chris Christie said in a press conference earlier this month that he had no knowledge of the lane closings–called “Bridgegate” in the media–that tied up traffic between the George Washington Bridge and the town of Fort Lee last year, but the man who actually ordered the closings says Christie knew all along.
The lane closings were allegedly ordered as revenge on the mayor for not backing Christie for re-election; Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly sent an email–which was released earlier this month–to Christie’s high school pal and Port Authority appointee David Wildstein that read, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Soon after, the lanes were closed down, snarling traffic for four days and causing major delays not just for commuters, but for school buses and emergency medical services. A 91-year old woman who died during that time is said to have perished because the ambulance couldn’t reach her in time.
Christie announced in a press conference that he had no knowledge beforehand that the lane closings were planned out and that he planned to fire Kelly.
“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions,” he said in a statement.
However, Wildstein says he has proof that Christie knew what was going on and, in fact, called the lane closings “the Christie administration’s order”.
“Evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference,” Wildstein wrote in a letter released by his lawyer.
Christie initially said that he’d had no contact with Wildstein in several months and therefore couldn’t have known about the plan to close down the bridge, but a photo released by the Wall Street Journal this month shows Christie and Wildstein standing together at a 9/11 memorial on the anniversary of the attacks last year, well after he said he’d last spoken to him.
“I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election,” Christie said. “You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with David since he worked at the Port Authority. I did not interact with David.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons