Starting Sept. 9—the first day of school—a pair of closed lanes between a New Jersey city and the George Washington Bridge to New York caused massive traffic problems for several days. Officials have said the closures were part of a traffic study, but emails and text messages, newly revealed by the Bergen Record and getting wide play, suggest that top aides to Chris Christie planned the gridlock. The mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, didn't endorse Christie's gubernatorial re-election bid, and the emails frequently mention him, the Record notes.
About three weeks before the closures, Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote to David Wildstein, a Christie executive at the regional Port Authority: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." "Got it," replied Wildstein, who resigned in December amid growing concern about the closures. Christie has denied that any of his staffers were tied to the closings. Selected quotes from the emails, via the Record:
- "Is it wrong that I’m smiling," an unidentified person texted Wildstein following the closures. After Wildstein said no, the person replied: "I feel badly about the kids. I guess." Wildstein's response: "They are the children of Buono voters." Barbara Buono was Christie's Democrat challenger.
- After New York authorities ended the closure, Wildstein sent Kelly the following: "We are appropriately going nuts. (Christie adviser David) Samson helping us to retaliate."
- "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian," Wildstein wrote to Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien, referring to Sokolich.