Aide Not Main Driver Of N.J. 'Bridgegate' Closings: Staffer
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[May 07, 2014]
By Daniel Kelley
TRENTON, New Jersey (Reuters) - A former
staffer of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Tuesday she did
not believe that her ex-boss, a woman who has taken much of the blame
for apparently politically motivated traffic jams last year, was the
main architect of the George Washington Bridge lane closings.
The former staffer, Christina Genovese Renna, also said she was
not involved in the closings, which have become known as the
"Bridgegate" scandal and have taken a toll on the public image of
Christie, a prominent Republican widely viewed as a 2016 White House
Renna told a state legislative panel that she did not believe her
former boss Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Christie's deputy chief of
staff before he fired her, dreamed up the idea of causing massive
traffic jams around Fort Lee, New Jersey near the bridge.
"I wouldn't say she was the architect, but I'd say she was
instrumental," Renna said. She declined to speculate on who may have
ordered the lane closures, apparent political retribution to the
Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who declined to back Christie's
The shutdown over four days last September caused massive gridlock
near the bridge linking New Jersey to New York City.
Christie has denied any knowledge of the scheme and fired Kelly
after the release of an e-mail in which she told David Wildstein, a
Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Separately on Tuesday, Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
announced the establishment of a bi-state panel to examine the
future of the Port Authority, which oversees the metropolitan area's
bridges, tunnels and airports.
The Port Authority has been criticized for political meddling and
poor governance and the panel will review issues involved in
reforms, including its complicated financial structure.
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At the lawmakers' hearing, Renna, who resigned this year as
Christie's director of intergovernmental affairs, testified under
oath that she had "no knowledge of or involvement in the bridge lane
She also told the bipartisan panel she had been told by her
superiors to keep track of which elected officials endorsed Christie
and to avoid communicating with certain mayors.
Renna said her former superior Kelly had an "issue" with Fort Lee
Mayor Mark Sokolich but could not explain what it was.
Wildstein, who resigned last year, has been accused of orchestrating
the scheme and is seeking immunity in the probe.
(Additional reporting by Hilary Russ; Writing by Victoria Cavaliere
and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Tom Brown and Grant McCool)
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