News

New Jersey’s Christie allies joke about another traffic jam

New Jersey’s Christie allies joke about another traffic jam

MORE BAD NEWS: Chris Christie faces new accusations of wrongdoing in his administration. Photo: Reuters

By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two people at the heart of a traffic scandal dogging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joked weeks earlier about causing traffic problems in front of the home of a rabbi, documents released on Thursday show.

Christie’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and David Wildstein, an ally to the governor at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, lost their jobs over their involvement in the “Bridgegate” scandal last September that is threatening Christie’s White House aspirations.

Documents released by Wildstein to a state legislative committee probing the incident, in which lanes were shut near the busy George Washington Bridge, causing a huge traffic jam, reveal that on Aug. 19 he and Kelly discussed another traffic scheme.

“We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?” Kelly wrote in a message to Wildstein.

“Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed,” Wildstein wrote in reply.

Kelly and Wildstein appear to be joking.

“This is part of the drip, drip, drip of bad news for Christie,” said Lee Miringoff, a political observer and a pollster with Marist College.

The Star-Ledger newspaper has identified the rabbi as Mendy Carlebach of the Chabad of North and South Brunswick who was also a chaplain for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department.

“He has officially pissed me off,” Wildstein wrote.

In a statement issued Thursday evening, Carlebach said: “As a Chabad Rabbi, I have served the people of our great state in times of need and otherwise for more than a decade.

“In this capacity, I have worked with a number of governors and their administrations. My work has always been apolitical, and I have no knowledge nor understanding of why my name was mentioned in these exchanges.”

Attorneys for Wildstein and Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The exchange also makes a vague reference to Cid Wilson, a New Jersey Democrat from Bergen County.

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Wilson wrote he was “deeply shocked and appalled” to learn his name had come up and that he had never met Wildstein or Kelly.

“It’s quite clear that David Wildstein is a psychopath and deeply troubled,” the statement said. “He is Gov. Chris Christie’s appointee, and I view this as a reflection of the kind of bully politics you can expect from Gov. Christie’s political appointees.”

Christie, a favored Republican candidate to run for the White House in 2016, has described himself as blindsided by Kelly and Wildstein’s roles in the September lane closures, which came just months before Christie’s resounding re-election win and appear to have been orchestrated to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.

But the incident, which is being investigated by federal prosecutors and the special legislative committee, has eroded the popularity of the Republican presidential hopeful.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Hilary Russ; Editing by Scott Malone, Gunna Dickson and Ken Wills)

News

4 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: In-fighting is entertaining in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

13-overlay

"Civil War" stands out as certainly the biggest of the stand-alones, and among the best because of what it has in common with the better films in the Marvel universe: the conflict is deeply human, told humorously, and best enjoyed if you don't overthink it.

5 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.

9 hours ago in National

Takata recalls millions more air bag inflators

takata16125303396828

Automakers will recall up to 40 million more air bag inflators installed by Takata Corp by 2019, expanding the largest automotive recall in American history.

10 hours ago in National

School safety: Drops in bullying, violent crime on campus

schoolsafety16124794280762

The latest government snapshot of school crime paints a picture of safer schools, with declines in violent crime, bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation.

10 hours ago in Entertainment

Dan Aykroyd adapting ‘Blues Brothers’ for animated series

danaykroyd391647313397

The animated project will also feature the band's original songs, as well as soul and blues classics, and new material recorded specially for the series, which Aykroyd will help to develop alongside "Saturday Night Live" writer Anne Beatts.