TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The latest documents released by a New Jersey legislative committee looking into a political payback scandal surrounding Gov. Chris Christie show two figures at the heart of the case making running jokes about the idea of creating traffic jams as a way to strike at enemies.
The documents do not provide any new evidence about how deep into the plot Christie or his top staffers may have been, though they do reinforce the idea that some of the people involved were cavalier about what they were doing.
"It seems like they really felt comfortable in talking about how they could utilize their authority to get back at people, which is disturbing," said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat who co-chairs the legislative panel.
Three weeks before the massive tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge, the two Christie-connected officials exchanged text messages about a rabbi who had bothered them. Since 2010, the rabbi has been a chaplain for the agency that runs the bridge, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Bridget Kelly, then an aide to Christie, was apparently joking when she sent an Aug. 19 text saying: "We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?"
David Wildstein, who was Christie's No. 2 man at the Port Authority, responded: "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed." He appeared to be joking, although the Port Authority does run the major New York City-area airports, as well.
"Perfect," Kelly wrote.
The exchange came six days after Kelly's previously disclosed message to Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."
Partially unredacted emails were made public Thursday by the legislative committee looking into political retribution in Christie's administration.
Christie has maintained that he was not involved in the closure or a cover-up and had no knowledge of the scheme before it happened.
Wildstein made the documents available to the committee. Like documents previously submitted to the committee by others, some passages of messages are blacked out.
In a statement, Wisniewski and committee co-chair Sen. Loretta Weinberg said they reviewed the full documents and agreed it was appropriate to leave some sections secret because "the material was outside of the subject matter or date range requested" in subpoenas.