Two key figures at the center of New Jersey’s Chris Christie/George Washington Bridge land closure political scandal reportedly joked about creating traffic jams outside the home of a local rabbi. CNN has reported. This latest revelation is based on recently released documents that have only brought about more questions regarding the controversy that has engulfed the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
David Wildstein, once a top Port Authority executive, 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?"
To which Wildstein responded: "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed."
The Port Authority oversees New York-area airports, in addition to bridges, tunnels, and bus terminals, according to CNN.
Still unclear at this time is exactly why the administration officials were upset with Carlebach, a Port Authority chaplain. The exchanges illustrate the culture of political mischief among Christie appointees.
"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.
The messages, which CNN reported were unredacted, even confirm that Wildstein was on site with a police officer during September’s lane closures. The officer, Chip Michaels, and his brother Jeff have family ties to Christie, CNN has reported.
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 are both no longer serving in the Christie administration - were the same two aides who exchanged text messages, also last August, agreeing that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Fort Lee is the town situated at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.
When two of the three bridge access lanes were closed for four days in September, the result was massive gridlock.
In the wake of these events, it has been suggested that the traffic jam was deliberately orchestrated to punish Fort Lee's mayor for not endorsing Christie's reelection. This sole allegation has morphed into a political scandal that has “called into question Christie's forceful governing style and clouded any potential prospects of a 2016 Republican presidential bid,” CNN explained.
Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the traffic jam until it had already ended and had appeared in media reports, according to CNN.
Christie has also denied knowing of any political mischief on the part of his either his staff or political appointees at the Port Authority, which oversees bridge operations.
The new documents were released last week by a state legislative committee commissioned to investigate 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.