Fired aide lied, New Jersey governor says
TRENTON, N.J. — The aide fired by Gov. Chris Christie as an investigation widened into traffic tie-ups she orchestrated had been part of his administration from the start and has a solid background in New Jersey politics.
Christie said on Thursday that Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly had been fired “because she lied to me.”
Recently released emails show Kelly gave the go-ahead for lane closures approaching the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic in the New Jersey community of Fort Lee, slowed emergency vehicles and delayed school buses the first week of classes.
A New Jersey native and mother of four, Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., and spent her career in New Jersey politics.
She began as a legislative aide to state Assemblyman David Russo, a Republican representing all or part of four northern New Jersey counties. In 2002, she became his chief of staff.
Kelly, 41, landed a spot with Christie in 2010 after he defeated incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine, but she did not work on either of his gubernatorial campaigns. She was promoted to deputy chief of staff in April.
It was in that capacity that she emailed David Wildstein, at the time Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the bridge, to say, “time to cause some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
“Got it,” replied Wildstein, who ordered the lanes closed weeks later.
Her Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as her personal email account, appeared to have been disabled Thursday.
She was the latest casualty in a scandal that threatened to upend the start of Christie’s second term and an anticipated run for president in 2016. The exit of four people close to the governor is remarkable in an administration known for loyal, longtime staff members.
Christie also cut ties to campaign manager and adviser Bill Stepien on Thursday. The emails showed Stepien gloating over the traffic chaos that resulted when two out of three local approach lanes to the bridge, linking New Jersey and New York City, were shut.
The governor’s top two appointees at the Port Authority, including Wildstein — who attended high school with Christie — have also resigned.