Unredacted lines in Bridgegate emails show more ‘jokes’ about traffic jam

A new set of uncensored documents shows two key Bridgegate figures joked about causing traffic problems for a Middlesex County rabbi three weeks before the shutdown of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. The early date of the text-message conversation shows David Wildstein and Bridget Ann Kelly giddy with the idea of using traffic problems as political retaliation.

The New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Thursday released 21 pages of partially unredacted documents by central Bridgegate figure David Wildstein.

In them, Bridget Ann Kelly, then Governor Chris Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, texted Wildstein on the evening of August 19: “We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?”

Six days earlier, Kelly, who was later fired by Christie, wrote the now-infamous smoking-gun email to Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

The new emails show the two joking about creating traffic problems for Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, who, Wildstein said, for reasons that aren’t clear: “He has officially pissed me off.”

After Kelly responded with the joke about traffic in front of his house, Wildstein joked “Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed.” “Perfect,” Kelly replied.

The documents show an unusual pre-occupation with race and ethnicity. The Rabbi is called the “Jewish Cid Wilson,” referring to an African-American Democratic activist who likes to appear with political figures. There are numerous references to the Mayor of Fort Lee as “a Serbian” or “Serbia.” (Mayor Mark Sokolich is of Croatian descent.)

The newly released-documents also show collusion over the testimony of then-Port Authority Deputy Director Bill Baroni before the Assembly in November, testimony which has since been shown to be false. The back-and-forth between Wildstein and Baroni show Baroni requesting documents and inquiring about his performance afterward the testimony.

“Good,” Wildstein wrote, before noting that a statement by Senator Kevin O’Toole was ready. O’Toole, a Republican, issued a statement that day supporting Baroni.

The emails also contain joking about a Port Authority Board Meeting November 14. “Are we being fired? “”Baroni texted Wildstein, before adding “Wisniewski” — Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is now leading the NJ investigation into Bridgegate — “coming to board.”

Wisniewski and Senator Loretta Weinberg explained in a joint statement that some of the material that Wildstein withheld was appropriate — but some of the previously withheld documents “should be made public.”

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Matt Katz is a reporter for New Jersey Public Radio/WNYC covering state politics. This article first appeared on NJ Spotlight, a content partner with NewsWorks.

 

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