The Washington Post

Christie aide joked about creating a second traffic jam


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responds to a question during a town hall meeting in Stirling, N.J., Feb. 26, 2014. ( Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Democrats in both New Jersey and Massachusetts slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday afternoon for traveling on a national fundraising tour despite the ongoing investigation into his role in the politically motivated closure of several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in 2011.

The comments come as Christie prepares for a fundraiser in Boston Thursday night, and just hours after newly-released text messages show that top Christie aides joked about causing "traffic problems" at the home of a New Jersey rabbi associated with the Port Authority – a new example of them jesting about using traffic construction as means of political retribution.

"It’s an embarrassment to have Gov. Christie in Massachusetts today,” said Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), who said that while Christie has yet to be directly implicated in the scandal, the idea that the New Jersey governor's top aides caused a traffic jam for political reasons is "as demeaning as you can get."

Christie has spent much of 2014 traveling the country raising money on behalf of the Republican Governors Association. His appearance in Boston Thursday night with former GOP presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and the presumptive GOP candidate in the Massachusetts governor's race, Charlie Baker, comes as many of Romney's presidential donors are considering whether they will finance Christie if he runs for president in 2016.

Some of those donors told The Washington Post this week that they are bearish on Christie's chances, while Democrats in Massachusetts have attempted to tie Baker -- who hopes to become the state's first GOP governor since Romney -- to Christie's political woes in the hopes that it will hurt him in November.

The fundraiser comes just hours after newly released documents revealed another occasion in which top Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly joked about carrying out political retribution against people who had upset her in text messages with former Port Authority executive David Wildstein.

According to The Record in North Jersey:

The texts occurred six days after Kelly sent to Wildstein her now-infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” setting off more than four days of gridlock in the borough in mid-September.

In the texts about the chaplain, Wildstein sent Kelly a picture of Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, later writing: “And he has officially pissed me off.”

“Clearly,” Kelly responded on Aug. 19.

“We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?” Kelly wrote.

“Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed,” wrote Wildstein, an executive at the bi-state agency that controls the region’s airports.

“Perfect,” Kelly wrote.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, Democrats have warned that as the investigations continue into both the bridge scandal as well as into how Christie managed state and federal funds for Superstorm Sandy cleanup, they expect more bombshells that will tarnish the governor.

"This is only the beginning. It's certainly not the end," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), during a phone call with reporters Thursday afternoon. "And it reflects the personality and character of the individual who is at the top."

[posttv url="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/politics/bridge-gate-howd-we-get-here/2014/02/06/37a8105c-8eae-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_video.html" ]

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

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