Christie aide not main driver of N.J. 'Bridgegate' closings: staffer

TRENTON, New Jersey Tue May 6, 2014 6:59pm EDT

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada March 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

Related Topics

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 contender.

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 re-election bid.

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.

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 closures."

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)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
lysergic wrote:
LOCK HIM UP AND CUT HIS FOOD INTAKE. IT WILL HELP HIM IN THE LONG RUN

May 06, 2014 11:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gitmojo wrote:
What? A witness not taking the Fifth?
Very disappointing that she has nothing to hide.

PS “lysergic” needs his ration of acid reduced to prevent future outbursts and excessive capitalization.

May 06, 2014 3:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JuniorBarnes wrote:
Yeah, we believe you.

May 06, 2014 6:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.