Documents: Christie appointees joke about rabbi and traffic problems
February 27th, 2014
02:06 PM ET
10 months ago

Documents: Christie appointees joke about rabbi and traffic problems

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET, 2/27/2014

(CNN) - Two figures at the center of a New Jersey political scandal joked about creating traffic jams outside the home of a local rabbi, according to newly released documents that raised more questions about the controversy roiling the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

David Wildstein, at the time a top executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, sent Bridget Anne Kelley, then a top aide to Christie, a photo in a text message last August that included the rabbi, Mendy Carlebach, saying "he has officially pissed me off."

She responded: "clearly," and "we cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house can we?"

Wildstein responds: "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed."

The Port Authority oversees New York-area airports, in addition to bridges, tunnels, and bus terminals.

It is not clear why the officials were upset with Carlebach, a Port Authority chaplain.

"As a Chabad Rabbi, I have served the people of our great state in times of need and otherwise for more than a decade," he said in a statement. "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."

Still, the exchanges raise more questions about Christie appointees and suggestions of political mischief.

"It tells you they were joking about it. That will be part of the investigation. What's the culture?" CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said.

wildstein kelly

The emails and texts also provide a glimpse into how key players handled the unfolding scandal - and even offered a little foreshadowing. At one point, Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, texted Wildstein and asked: "Are we being fired?"

Weeks later, both Baroni and Wildstein had resigned.

And the unredacted messages confirm that Wildstein was on site during the lane closures in September with a Port Authority police officer, Chip Michaels, who along with his brother Jeff have family ties to Christie.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed has said in the past that "the governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic."

The unredacted messages also confirm that Wildstein was on site during the lane closures in September with a Port Authority police officer,  Chip Michaels, who along with his brother Jeff have family ties to Christie.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed has said in the past that "the governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic."

Wildstein and Kelly - who no longer work for Christie - were the same two aides who exchanged text messages, also last August, agreeing that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," a town that sits at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.

Timeline: How the Christie scandal unfolded

Two of the three access lanes to the bridge were closed for nearly a week in September, causing massive gridlock in the North Jersey town.

Suggestions the tie-ups were orchestrated to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie's reelection has mushroomed into a scandal that has called into question Christie's forceful governing style and clouded any potential prospects of a 2016 Republican presidential bid.

Christie has denied any knowledge of the traffic mess until after it ended and only after it appeared in media reports.

He also denies knowing of any political mischief involving staffers or appointees at the Port Authority, which oversees bridge operations.

On a radio program on Wednesday night, Christie defended his handling of the matter before it made national headlines in January and said he would not let the scandal distract him from his "real job."

The new documents were released by a state legislative committee investigating the matter.

They were among documents Wildstein handed over in January, but they have been unredacted to reveal certain details, such as the joke about the rabbi.

Wildstein resigned in December, after claiming the George Washington Bridge traffic jams were caused by a study that was considered improper by his superiors at the Port Authority.

Kelly was fired in January.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Why are republicans so vindictive? Don't answer, I already know.

    February 27, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Bessy

    It seems that the people on his staff were/are just as arrogant as he is. I guess it might be a pre requisite to work for him.

    February 27, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Wake up People!

    Oh boy those libruls done hacked Wildstein and Kelley's emails trying to bring Big Boy down!!
    This is a lie and Crispy knew nothing about it!!! Democratic lubrul witch hunt on a real Amurikkkan hero!!

    IRS!! Benghazi!! Lewinsky!!!

    ROFLMAO!

    February 27, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. salty dog

    Nah, he didn't know they were acting that way, and he's not grossly incompetent either. Only the blindest of the blind can say they still believe, the usual suspects, I believe their called these days.

    February 27, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Ron L

    My problem with this MESS is Governor Christie made it a point to criticize the President when the so-called IRS scandal occurred and the launching of the ACA. He basically stated, it showed the President was a extremely poor manager of his people. Now, we have some of the closest members of his administration doing all kind of vindictive things without his knowledge!!! And his reason for not knowing, he gives his people leeway in performing their duties?? So, is he a hands on manager when things are running well? Or is he a guy who will blame his employees when things are going poorly? I have always felt he was HIGHLY overrated. In the last 2 months he has proven me to be correct.

    February 27, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. salty dog

    Who's laughing now, me, and the rest of us who knew how he ran things. Tiger can't change his stripes, this is the only way he knows to govern, thankfully it has become all but undeniable, he's toast.

    February 27, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @Wake up People!
    Oh boy those libruls done hacked Wildstein and Kelley's emails trying to bring Big Boy down!!
    This is a lie and Crispy knew nothing about it!!! Democratic lubrul witch hunt on a real Amurikkkan hero!!

    IRS!! Benghazi!! Lewinsky!!!

    ROFLMAO!
    ----------
    I wanna see Lewinsky's birth certificate when she worked secretly for the IRS in Benghazi. I think that covers it all.

    February 27, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Gov. Christie asserts that he knew absolutely nothing. noth-thing, NOTH-THING. I'd bet Christie has a future in acting.

    February 27, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. salty dog

    I'm going to guess, this is the lie of the year, but its still early, in an election year no less. It kills me, Obama's lie of the year was the truth for the vast majority, and considering plans change every other year, its not that earthshaterring world ending lie they want you to believe it was. Why do the Koch brothers spend hundreds of millions to make you believe otherwise?

    February 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC
    Thanks my friend.

    February 27, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Wake up People!

    Oh now that's a good one Silence!!!

    February 27, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wake up People!

    Oh boy those libruls done hacked Wildstein and Kelley's emails trying to bring Big Boy down!!
    This is a lie and Crispy knew nothing about it!!! Democratic lubrul witch hunt on a real Amurikkkan hero!!

    IRS!! Benghazi!! Lewinsky!!!

    ROFLMAO!
    -------------------------------------------------
    My sister you're too much!!
    IRS!!Benghazi!!Lewinsky!!

    February 27, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC
    Thanks my friend.
    -----------------
    I felt the window closing to post more messages. No problem.
    I had to make sure they understood that their opinions are not facts, anyway.

    February 27, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sorry to hear about our AG being hospitalized.
    I pray that all that's needed is time and rest.
    Speedy recovery to you sir.

    February 27, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. Are you kidding me?

    This whole scandal is the tip of the bad behavior iceberg. The GOP should be held accountable in the same light they held our president and the Dems accountable since 2009.

    Some fools will tolerate such behavior but I will not when I comes for my time to vote regardless of party.

    February 27, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    This is so hilariously ironic....... So Christy had a made up a job for his Ace Boon Koon, for those who are street slang challenged, that would be his BFF or homeboy. Said Ace proceeds to cause a major traffic jam resulting in at least one death. All of his closest employees are in on it but Christy himself doesn't know. Yet President Obama is supposed to know everything that is going on with everybody around the country?

    Ok, sure. Christy is either lying through his teeth or he is the absolute most incompetent, corrupt governor in history. And completely clueless.

    February 27, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    Does this really surprise anyone?
    If Christie doesn't know or is part of what is going on around him in a small office space in one building how are we to think he can run a country?

    February 27, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    The Right Wing folks should combine their conspiracy theories into one term for easy shouting at rallies.
    For example communist, Benghazi, Lewinsky, dictator would become:
    "Commu ghaz inski tater" or "Commughazinskitater!"

    February 27, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Paul Daughtrey

    Lots of piecies to this puzzle. Not sure of take or leave. privacy issues.

    February 27, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    More and more, we see that the people Christie has surrounded himself with are a bunch of immature brats. Birds of a feather ...

    February 27, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. Mr Dalloway

    Ah fat boy things are getting rather tight isn't it?

    February 27, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    "Said Ace proceeds to cause a major traffic jam resulting in at least one death. All of his closest employees are in on it but Christy himself doesn't know. Yet President Obama is supposed to know everything that is going on with everybody around the country?"

    Yes, President Obama, who supposedly never works because he's always playing golf, is intimately involved with everything, from the IRS office in Cincinnati, to the consulate in Benghazi, to every other "scandal" featured ad nauseam on Fox.

    He hates our capitalist economy, yet has presided over the economic recovery, the rebounding of the housing market and record highs for the stock market. He is both weak and an iron-fisted dictator and a secret Muslim who's eliminated not only bin Laden, but the al Qaeda leadership – because nothing says "I love you" like taking you out in a drone strike.

    The President could establish peace in the Middle East and cure cancer and the RWNJ echo chamber would still complain.

    What else do they have to talk about? Lord knows the right has no track record of success to point to; just a pathetically angry mob of whiny, insecure, intolerant brats for a base financed by a handful of multi-billionaires and foreign interests.

    February 27, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    @Paul Daughtrey: "Lots of piecies to this puzzle. Not sure of take or leave. privacy issues."

    There is no privacy when you use company email – the content belongs to the company (in this case, the NJ state government).

    February 27, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. CryBabies

    Silence would Do you Good and raise your IQ.

    February 27, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    How this thing is unfolding reminds me of the Enron scandal and how they caught execs on tape laughing about houses burning in California ("burn baby, burn!"). Utter contempt for the average person.

    Shouldn't this kind of behavior negate future compensation and benefits (including retirement and health)?

    February 27, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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