TRENTON, N.J. – Emails recently obtained by a New Jersey paper document a political ploy from the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to punish Fort Lee, New Jersey Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s bid for reelection. The correspondence, supplied by David Wildstein- a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, show that Christie punished Sokolich first by closing three lanes of traffic to Fort Lee from the George Washington Bridge, and then by ordering a ‘hit’ on the New Jersey Mayor.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” wrote Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, to Wildstein on August 13. Wildenstein’s response was “Got it.”
Kelly then replied, “If that doesn’t do it, Chris knows a guy from back in the day. Know anyone who wants to be Mayor of Fort Lee? There may be an opening soon.”
The September lane closure- which were a surprise to local officials and police, caused four days of crippling gridlock in Fort Lee, impeded first responders, and delayed school buses- had been previously explained away by the Christie administration as part of a Port Authority traffic study. The emails released today, however, disprove the administration’s claim that it was not involved and lay bare the turmoil among Christie’s staff with their boss’ order to have Sokolich ‘taken out.’
“Christie’s serious about the hit,” writes Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority, who was appointed by Christie and is featured prominently in the emails.
“That won’t play well in the press,” replies Wildstein. “Any way to talk him down? How about a good maiming?”
Wildstein and Baroni have both since resigned from their posts.
State Senator Barbara Buono, the Democrat who ran against Christie and lost in 2013, said the messages showed “a web of deceit and subterfuge and political retribution leading straight to Chris Christie.” She also said that Christie’s staff members are “terrible people and shouldn’t be in public office.”
Informed of Buono’s criticism, Wildstein responded, “She said what? Wow. Sounds like there’s going to be an opening for a new State Senator pretty soon.”