Meet the Key Players in the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal

The people behind a story that has endangered the New Jersey governor's presidential hopes

  • Share
  • Read Later
Phil Stilton / Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with his now-former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who he fired Jan. 1 amid a growing traffic scandal.

The unfolding scandal over a massive, four-day traffic jam apparently created as an act of political retribution by a top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has all the hallmarks of classic Garden State intrigue. The Port Authority. Vengeance. Heavy traffic.

The political fallout has already claimed victims, including the top aide whose firing Christie announced during a long, contrite news conference Thursday, and it threatens to damage the governor’s 2016 presidential prospects. Federal prosecutors say they’re now investigating the incident.

Like any tale of intrigue, the cast of characters can become a bit unwieldy. Here are the five players in the George Washington Bridge scandal you need to know.

Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly

 

Bridget Anne Kelly is Christie’s now-former deputy chief of staff, and the person emails show telling a Christie ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” after the city’s mayor declined to endorse Christie’s reelection. That eventually led to lanes being closed on the New Jersey side of of the George Washington Bridge, jamming traffic in Fort Lee for days. Christie announced Kelly had been fired in Thursday, saying she had misled him about his office’s involvement in the lane closures. “I’ve terminated her employment because she lied to me,” Christie said.

 

David Wildstein former director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority

 

David Wildstein went to high school with Christie and is a longtime friend. A notoriously hard-nosed New Jersey political operative, Wildstein anonymously ran a successful New Jersey political website for years before later being appointed to the Port Authority by Christie. It was Wildstein who, according to the newly disclosed documents, received the directive from Christie’s aide to create traffic problems in Fort Lee. He resigned from his position at the Port Authority in December last year. He refused to answer questions to state lawmakers investigating the incident Thursday, citing his constitutional right to stay silent.

 

 

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive deputy director Bill Baroni

Bill Baroni was the Deputy Executive Director at the Port Authority and Christie’s top man at the agency. Baroni stuck by his story that the lane closures were part of a mishandled “traffic study” rather than political retribution, even as he resigned from his position along with Wildstein.

 

 

 

 

Patrick Foye

 

Patrick Foye is the executive director of the Port Authority, and an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (the two states have joint control over the agency). Being outside of the Christie fold, Foye’s testimony under oath that he didn’t know anything about a traffic study—supposedly the reason for the gridlock—instantly raised questions about why, then, if the head honcho didn’t know about a traffic study, lanes had been closed at all.

 

 

 

 

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich

 

Mark Sokolich is the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who apparently brought the traffic jam of all traffic jams upon his town because he wouldn’t back Christie’s reelection bid. After the lane closures brought Fort Lee’s streets to a stand still, Sokolich reached out to Baroni for help, though his pleas went nowhere. Since the disclosures of political motives at play, Sokolich has harshly criticized Christie’s administration. “You have intentionally put people in harm’s way,” he said on CNN.

 

 

 

Headshot credits: Phil Stilton, William Thomas Cain / Getty Images; Henny Ray Abrams, Mike Groll / AP; Eric Thayer / Reuters

9 comments
147cad
147cad

Christie reminds me of Nixon, "I didn't know anything about this.". And you know how that ended.

Lieutenant
Lieutenant

Christie toast now as far as elective offices.  There are multiple civil law suites coming I'm sure.  Wouldn't know about criminal ones but who knows?  Pleading the 5th won't hack it.  The truth will win out in the end.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Mark Sokolich -- the prime character in this plot. Bred in party intrigues and political conspiracies, Sokolich had succeeded in causing four day traffic jam. But he is not going to escape the consequences of the fallout.

tcement
tcement

Bridget Anne Kelly? Wasn't she in "Mean Girls"?

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

I too am sick and tired of these power hungry people who will use that power which they are legitimately given by the voters, to satisfy their egos.  What kind of a world do they live in?   Retribution and lying within Christie's top ranks don't make him fit to run any office if he can't control his staff.   How will we ever have the good government if these are the kind that keep getting elected.  I'm betting there's more to come.

George286
George286

"Bully" is not the right characterization of Gov. Christie, betrayal is more like it. We politically contest each other in the media and through elections. Once the elections are over though an elected representative takes an oath to be the representative of ALL the people, not to use the power granted them to victimize their opponents, here even the general public of an area. This is Nixonian and a direct result of Christie's temper and a clueless understanding of his fundamental duty as a governor with these underhanded tactics. And this was not done by some mid or low-level functionaries, it was done by his top staff. I don't believe for a minute he was not aware of the agenda, he is very intelligent, even if he was he should resign for gross incompetency for losing control of his office. And it was all done so casually with glee that it can only be an example of a pattern of abuse of power for political retribution. An apology doesn't cut it, it is time for the Republicans to disown him, for him to resign and for a Grand Jury to see what else went on.

Al.B
Al.B

@147cad Obama as President has done this too many times. Yet we all are supposed to look away. Bridgegate to me is minor compared to scandals of Obama and Hillary, who is the potential nominee for the Democratic ticket. Dems better check it, because if it comes down to Christy vs. Hillary Bridgegate is going to look like small potatoes. 

Al.B
Al.B

@Lieutenant The good politicians survive, as in good at navigating through a scandal. Look no further than the man sitting in the White House currently