January 11, 2014 12:24 pm -

christie_kellyThis makes it a lot more difficult to believe that Gov. Chris Christie was not in the loop about the “Bridgegate” hijinks that tied up traffic at the George Washington Bridge for days:

Bridget Anne Kelly, the aide Governor Christie fired for her role in manufacturing a Fort Lee traffic jam apparently as political retribution, was receiving messages about what to tell reporters before she accompanied him to the Seaside Heights boardwalk fire, newly released documents show.

On the fourth day of the traffic jam, the governor – accompanied by Kelly – rushed to the scene of the inferno raging in Ocean County. The pair arrived at the boardwalk on Sept. 12 at about 6:25 p.m. The fire was first reported at about 2:05 p.m.

Ocean County photographer, Phil Stinton, snapped photos of Christie and Kelly — a Ramsey resident with deep Bergen County political ties — at about 7 p.m. walking and talking with firefighters. In one photo, Christie is strutting, fist clenched, absent his suit jacket, sleeves rolled, tie and hair wind blown. Kelly, wearing a mauve blouse, black skirt and pearl necklace, stands alongside him. She is looking down at her smartphone.

About four hours earlier, at 3:18 p.m., Kelly received an email from Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein, who resigned after months of dogged questions about his order to close toll lanes leading from Fort Lee’s local streets to the George Washington Bridge. Michael Drewniak, the governor’s spokesman, was also sent a copy.

“The Port Authority is reviewing traffic safety patterns at the George Washington Bridge to ensure proper placement of toll lanes,” the message reads. “The [Port Authority Police Department] has been in contact with Fort Lee police throughout this transition.”

That email was one of many communications between Kelly, Wildstein and former state Sen. Bill Baroni, who has also resigned as the Port Authority’s deputy executive director for his role in the lane closures, in the weeks leading up to the gridlock scheme. The emails, which were obtained by The Record this week, show that members of Christie’s staff were directly involved in the planning of the traffic jam as political retribution and contradicted the governor’s earliest statements that his staff was not involved.

On Thursday, the governor fired Kelly and apologized to the state for his cavalier attitude toward the scandal and for the plot to punish the Fort Lee mayor and the borough that elected him.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.