A former ally of Chris Christie claimed Friday that the New Jersey governor knew of the lane closures that crippled the George Washington Bridge in September as they occurred.
David Wildstein, a Christie confidant since high school whom the governor had anointed to run the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, said today that Christie knew of the closings as they played out. In a letter released by his lawyer, Mr. Windstein said that evidence exists “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.”
Mr. Wilstein’s account is the first to suggest that Mr. Christie knew of his office’s involvement in the lane closings before that news became public in December. Mr. Wildstein’s claims direcly contradict statements Mr. Christie made during a two hour news conference he held three weeks ago, in which he vehemently denied any knowledge of the lane closures and expressed deep dismay over his office’s apparent involvement in the affair. Mr. Christie’s office released a statement Firday afternoon, just after Mr. Wildstein’s letter was made public, stating that the governor “first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press.”
The lane closures occurred last fall when Democrat Mark Sokolich, the Mayor of Fort Lee, a small town on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, refused to endorse Mr. Christie in his reelection campaign for governor of New Jersey. In the immediate wake of Mr. Sokolich’s refusal, a Christie deputy sent an email to Mr. Wilstein urging him to close down lanes on the bridge so that traffic would jam up and slow down commuting in the city limits of Fort Lee. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the Christie deputy, Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote in the email.