He Said, She Said: Quotable Moments From The Bridgegate Interviews

Matt Katz | April 16, 2014 | Katz on Christie

Newly released documents offer additional details about the scandals enveloping the Christie Administration. The documents are summaries of interviews with 70 people that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyers conducted as part of an internal review into Bridgegate and related allegations about political revenge. Although there is no transcript of the interviews, the documents contain some revealing quotes: 

We don’t have scandals. Christie’s assertion to his staff during a meeting Dec. 13, in which spokesman Michael Drewniak said the governor was angrier than he had ever seen him after 12 years working together. Two hours later, Christie held a press conference to announce that Bill Baroni, the Port Authority official who had tried to sell the Legislature a bogus cover story about the George Washington Bridge lane closures, would resign.

No need to call to check in. The euphemism in Christie’s office to refer to mayors and other elected officials who were being iced out by the administration for not endorsing the governor or some other transgression.

A brilliant mastermind of voting data. Describing Bill Stepien, who worked for Christie as a deputy chief of staff, where he compiled a list of key towns (the T-100 list) that Christie would target for support. This political list was later augmented with 17 towns affected by Sandy, and when Stepien went on to become campaign manager he worked with government workers to woo these towns’ mayors for endorsements.

Not nearly as intelligent as Stepien…fell in line with whatever he wanted without question. How a former employee characterized Bridget Kelly, who wrote the “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, compared to Bill Stepien, her former boss and boyfriend who went on to become Christie’s campaign manager. That fits the narrative from Christie’s lawyers — that Stepien, who was close to Christie, had nothing to do with ordering the lane closures while Kelly, who was upset about being dumped by Stepien, was complicit. Yet it raises new questions about whether Kelly really would have acted without Stepien’s approval.

I’ve been hiding under my desk nervous anytime someone walked in here with questions about Fort Lee, and I’m just happy it’s dying down. The day before Kelly’s “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email was revealed, she thought that the scandal was going away.

I’m so sorry. Kelly’s apologies to both a colleague and an underling the morning her email came out.

Moderate the language. The message that Stepien, upset that he was fired by Christie, sent to the governor before a press conference in which Christie was to announce Stepien’s dismissal. 

Part of the Birkenstock crowd. The way state Department of Environmental Commissioner Robert Martin described Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who was perceived as being opposed to development. She claims that Christie officials wanted her to green-light a development in order to get Sandy flood-prevention money. 

Don’t bend over backwards for Zimmer. After Mayor Zimmer announced she would not be endorsing Christie, this is the instruction given to government employees in charge of working with mayors on Sandy aid.

Wildstein is an odd duck. Christie’s description of David Wildstein when he heard that he may be the anonymous blogger “Wally Edge.” Christie would later create a position at the Port Authority — Director of Interstate Capital Projects — for Wildstein, who would then close the lanes to the bridge.

Despite what may have happened during the re-election period in 2013, IGA is still 99% pure good government. Said about Office for Intergovernmental Affairs by a staffer who has now resigned.

You can’t trust anyone, Christina. Kelly’s final message to an underling on the day she was fired.