January 9th, 2014
12:37 PM ET
6 months ago

Who is David Wildstein?

(CNN) - For nearly his entire career, David Wildstein has tried to stay out of the public spotlight. Now one of the key figures in the George Washington Bridge scandal, there's no avoiding the spotlight.

"He's made a point to stay in the shadows and be the person directing the show from behind the curtain," said Shawn Boburg, a reporter for the Bergen County Record who wrote a profile of Wildstein in 2012.


Until he resigned last month, Wildstein was the director of interstate capital projects for the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. But his unofficial title was maybe even more important: Chris Christie confidante.

"Wildstein was known as the Governor's eyes and ears inside this massive agency," Boburg said.

While the Port Authority had historically operated independently of the governors of the two states it served, Christie named Wildstein to the authority in 2010 to increase oversight.

"A lot of people felt afraid of him because of his direct line to the governor's office," Boburg said.

Christie and Wildstein attended high school together and Wildstein would waste little time getting into politics. At age 16, he was elected to his local school board. He would later serve as the mayor of Livingston, New Jersey, before deciding to take a more behind-the-scenes role in politics.

"He had a very tumultuous period of leadership," Boburg said. "At that point he said, 'I'm done being the person on stage' and moved to the strategy side."

While an executive at his family's textile business, Wildstein also ran an insider-political website, politickernj.com under the pseudonym "Wally Edge," the name of a former New Jersey governor.

His real name was only disclosed when his Port Authority announcement was made.

With his appointment to the Port Authority, Wildstein made his reputation as being a politically powerful operative, according to Boburg.

"He was known for walking the halls, monitoring other executives. He was wildly feared and admired for his work ethic, his intelligence, and his political savvy," Boburg said.

The other tenet of his reputation? Loyalty.

"He was very loyal to the governor. Extremely loyal. Some people described him as vindictive. He was a very powerful position at this transportation agency and the main criticism of him there was that he was much more political than… the issues this agency is dedicated to," Boburg said.

At a news conference Thursday, Christie painted a different picture of his relationship with Wildstein.

"Let me just clear something up. About my childhood friend David Wildstein. It is true that I met David in 1977. In high school. He’s a year older than me. David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even acquaintances in high school. I mean, I had a high school, Livingston a three year high school that had 1800 students. A 3-year high school in 1980. I knew who he was. I met David on the Tom Kean for governor campaign in 1977. He was a youth volunteer and so was I really after that time I completely lost touch with David. We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time and then we reacquainted years later in I think 2000," said Christie.

"We went 23 years without seeing each other. And in the years we did see each other, we passed in the hallways. I want to clear that up. It doesn’t make a difference except that I think some of the stories that were written impute a emotional relationship and closeness between me and David that doesn’t exist. I know David and you know I knew that Bill Baroni wanted to hire David to come to the Port Authority and I gave him my permission to do it but that was Bill’s hire," the governor added.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Tony D

    If he abused his position and power then Christie was right to give him the axe. He let his emotions get the better of him. Christie was going to win the governors race no matter what. I wonder if Wildstein had something personal against the mayor of Lee, besides the fact that he didn't endorse Christie.

    January 9, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Name

    He's a gangster hiding around the badge...

    January 9, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. O'drama ya Mama

    Tony D

    If he abused his position and power then Christie was right to give him the axe. He let his emotions get the better of him. Christie was going to win the governors race no matter what. I wonder if Wildstein had something personal against the mayor of Lee, besides the fact that he didn't endorse Christie.
    January 9, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Christie did not give him the ax nor did he have the authority to do so. Wildstein resigned after he knew he was caught. Being that the two of them have this history together and that Christie not even an hour ago acted as if they were just acquaintances makes this a bit more shady dont you think? We will see how far up this goes but my hunch tells me Christie knew what was going on. Being that Christie didnt even lift a finger to correct the situation even when it was still thought to be just a "traffic study" gone wrong also shows there is more to this story.

    January 9, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Christie and Wildstein attended high school together and Wildstein would waste little time getting into politics.

    "He was very loyal to the governor. Extremely loyal. Some people described him as vindictive.

    Is Chris Christie Godfather to David Wildstein children ?

    January 9, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What kind of a Governor is unaware of the top story in his state's newspapers???"

    Let me think now. Yep, I've got the answer: A Governor who is foolish enough to accept (his words, not mine) that a "bridge study" was begun on the first day of school traffic ... on a bridge that is known (hopefully by him) to be the busiest bridge in the world under any circumstance? And who then chooses (for whatever reason) to sit back and allow the congestion to continue for four more days without delving into the situation further?

    How does my answer work for you?

    January 9, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Tony D

    Come on people, get a clue please.

    Here is a question I'd like everybody to ask themselves. First think about who is your best and closest friend, even if that includes your spouse.

    Now tell me if you know everything about them and everything about what they do every single day?

    Of course not. And yet the smear merchants on the left are asking you to believe that about Christie. Why? Because they have ZERO PROOF of his involvement or knowledge of this act by idiots he happened to know.

    January 9, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. jinx9to88

    This guy is pleading the 5th amendment in the hearing, which means he is protecting Christie.

    January 9, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Michael Lane

    The residents of the affected town should track this arrogant jherk down, place him under citizen's arrest, and drag his butt off to the nearest jail for endangerering public safety. Then the Feds could have him for disrupting interstate commerce. Maybe send him to Gitmo for "Political Terrorism"

    If I lived in that town, he'd be either in jail or Intensive Care for resisting arrest. *chuckle*

    January 9, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Borja....

    Like I said he's a gangster....these people who worked for this thug are scared to say anything .... He lied his ass off in front of the world.... give him a lie detector test, bet he doesn't pass

    January 9, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    O'Drama observed:

    .... ... We will see how far up this goes but my hunch tells me Christie knew what was going on. Being that Christie didnt even lift a finger to correct the situation even when it was still thought to be just a "traffic study" gone wrong also shows there is more to this story.
    --------------------------
    Yes, we will see. Christie is the captain of the ship, and he's a captain with the reputation of being a bully. The innermost circle of his "crew" go and commit vindictive acts, for which they are punished. Yet, the captain claims the he knew nothing of their actions, nothing at all, and that he should not held responsible.

    But, Christie's the captain of the ship, and it's innermost circle that have committed these acts. Isn't the captain supposed to go down with his ship?

    January 9, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Larry in Houston

    I've been across that bridge many times when I used to live wayyy north than here.....If I remember correctly, that is a "Toll" bridge, and it is one of the bridges that connects N.Y. to N.J. ....From what I can remember, once you drive into Pa. and drive on practically any bridge east and to the north eastern states, you better have a Lot of dollar bills and a have at least a couple rolls of Quarters in your vehicle, if you want to cross from state to state

    This guy deserved to be Fired ! and to be perfectly honest, it will take the heat off of Christy, and he knows it, why do you think he fired him ?

    January 9, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Boomer in Mo

    Why would a Democrat be expected to endorse a Republican in the first place? Something else is going on here.

    January 9, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. current state of the union

    Tony, save it pal, the only one buying that garbage is you, he lied, then lied again, and today a third one, only one can be true, go ahead and vote for these losers, they treat you do well, damn fools . Ever wonder why you are judge and jury on Obama, with zero evidence, but exonerate the right, no integrity, zero

    January 9, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "This guy is pleading the 5th amendment in the hearing, which means he is protecting Christie."

    He's angling for immunity.

    January 9, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    Will the federal prosecutor discover evidence that Gov Christie runs his office like a mafia crime syndicate?

    January 9, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. just saying

    Rudy NYC
    But, Christie's the captain of the ship, and it's innermost circle that have committed these acts. Isn't the captain supposed to go down with his ship?
    --

    If that were true we would have rid of Obama, Liar of the Year, LONG ago!!!

    January 9, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    What happend to the big bad wolf...sounds more like little red riding hood....

    January 9, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Boomer in Mo wrote:

    Why would a Democrat be expected to endorse a Republican in the first place? Something else is going on here.
    ------------------–
    Good question. Follow the money. How much Sandy Relief money went to Democrats who supported Christie compared to those who did not support Christie? Follow the money, that's all I have to say about it. Follow the money.

    January 9, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. current state of the union

    Aww, did your Knight in shining armour get his clean white suit all dirty? You lack the integrity it takes to carry credibility saying, just like Christie, suckers.

    January 9, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Say, wait a second. Weren't these people using their *personal* email accounts to conduct state business?

    January 9, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |