Streams

New Bridgegate Emails Hint At Cover-Up

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gov. Christie walks with Bill Stepien, his former campaign manager. (Tim Larsen/Governor's Office)

More emails released in the Bridgegate scandal engulfing Gov. Chris Christie's administration provide new evidence about a larger circle that covered up the involvement of the governor's staff.

In one email, the head of Christie's re-election campaign praises the governor's top Port Authority appointee for hoodwinking the Legislature about the cause of the traffic jams. 

The emails, released Monday as part of the court proceeding, don't contain the kind of smoking gun that was in the first batch released in January ("Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," wrote Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, to David Wildstein, Christie's appointee at the Port Authority). But they do bring Christie's former political right-hand man, Bill Stepien, who is the third key figure in the case, closer to the possible conspiracy.

When Bridgegate broke, Stepien was slated to run the state Republican party and act as an aide to Christie in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He was dismissed from both positions.

The emails were released as part of a request for more information from Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, who is considering a request from Stepien and Kelly to quash a subpoena filed by Democratic state legislators for their emails and other documents. At a hearing last week, an attorney for the legislative committee investigating Bridgegate, Reid Schar, referred to unreleased emails provided by other witnesses linking Stepien to the scandal. Stepien's attorney, Kevin Marino, demanded to see those emails. 

You can read the full documents below and here are some highlights:

-- Stepien is repeatedly forwarded emails about the lane closures beginning on Sept. 12, the fourth day of the five-day scheme. In the weeks afterward, as reporters begin to question why the lanes were closed, Stepien is looped in on emails that discuss avoiding reporters’ questions.

-- On Nov. 26, 2013, after Christie's appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, testifies that the lane closures were due to a traffic study, Stepien writes him an email praising him. In that email, he refers to the time Baroni argued with the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg at a congressional hearing about the Port Authority’s toll hikes: “I know its not a fun topic and not nearly as fun as beating up on Frank Lautenberg, but you did great, and I wanted to thank you.”

-- In response, Baroni thanks Stepien, and references Democratic state legislators Loretta Weinberg and John Wisniewski, who would become the co-chairs of the Legislature’s investigative committee on Bridgegate: “[They] will keep their nonsense but at least we have explained the counter narrative.”

-- On Jan. 8, 2014, an email from Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, is released. It says: “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Shortly thereafter, Christie spokesman Colin Reed sends a note to his boss, communications director Maria Comella, with advice for Kelly in regards to her Twitter account: “Maybe too late, but she may want to shut down everything on social media."

March 17, 2014 - Exhibits I

March 17, 2014 - Exhibits II

March 17, 2014 - Exhibits III

Tags:

More in:

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [9]

Caroline

I applaud WNYC for their coverage and only wish this story was getting more attention in the NJ and NYC press. Christie should be shamed no matter what: having no idea what is going on in your administration is probably just as bad as orchestrating it. As for Stepien? Vile tactics here. Plus, anyone who celebrates beating up on Frank Lautenberg should just be exiled from the state.

Mar. 18 2014 04:30 PM

The taxpayers of New Jersey are entitled to see everything in those redacted documents, which were produced on government time and government resources. Wildstein, Kelly, Stepian, Baroni, Samson, and Christie should be compelled to divulge EVERY SINGLE COMMUNICATION.

Mar. 18 2014 04:15 PM
jm

I read that redacted content in this case refers to people who would not have been employed by the state of NJ/Port Authority during the time period of the incident (to protect private citizens, perhaps?). If so, it would be understandable, but still frustrating.

Mar. 18 2014 10:53 AM
Stephen Bloch from Queens

Sam:

There are legitimate reasons to redact parts of a subpoenaed document, e.g. to protect the privacy of people who are mentioned by name in the document but aren't subjects of the inquiry. But I'd like to know that some judge has seen the unredacted versions and approved the necessity for the redactions.

Mar. 18 2014 09:34 AM
Ellen O'Brien from Home

In the case of Bridget Kelly and the Port Authority appointees, isn't their work product (emails, etc.) done on computers provided by their state employer legitimately owned by said employer? How can they refuse to comply with subpoenas requesting that any of these work generated materials be produced?

Mar. 18 2014 09:33 AM
EL Ross from Monmouth Cty

Christie claims to know nothing about this. He is PAID to know what is going on in this state. Either way he looks really bad(which I always thought he was).

Mar. 18 2014 09:31 AM
David from New Jersey

Why would anyone refuse to release their work related emails while employed by NJ if they weren't trying to hide their involvement in a criminal matter ? their refusal in my mind is a confession of complicity in the scandal.

Mar. 18 2014 08:13 AM
Sam Rosetti from Atco

Matt,

How come all these things are redacted what is the purpose other than to hide more. Can the courts force them to release unredacted copies??

Mar. 18 2014 07:15 AM
Sam Rosetti from Atco

Matt,

How come all these things are redacted what is the purpose other than to hide more. Can the courts force them to release unredacted copies??

Mar. 18 2014 07:15 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Sponsored

Latest Newscast

 

 

Support

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public

Feeds

Supported by