Former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, and one of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s top allies, defended her innocence after being indicted on charges for her alleged role in creating traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge as political retribution in 2013.
“I am not guilty of the crimes for which I was accused. I look forward to sharing the truth,” she said in her first public comments since the scandal erupted.
The indictment against Kelly and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, includes charging the two with nine counts, including ‘”knowingly converting and intentionally misapplied property of an organization receiving federal benefits.”
“They agreed to and did use public resources to carry out a vendetta and exact retribution,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman said at an earlier news conference Friday.
David Wildstein, a Christie friend and his appointee to the Port Authority, has already pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy against civil rights.
“It is an absurd thought to believe that a member of the governor’s staff could close the George Washington Bridge,” Kelly said, yet in an email written to Wildstein that implied it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” for which Christie immediately fired Kelly for after her alleged involvement in the scandal surfaced paints a completely different scenario.
On Friday, Kelly claimed that the comments were her attempt at sarcasm and apologized for the failure calling it; “insensitive and offensive”. She also stated that she did not know Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich, and never had any “ill feelings toward him.”
“I realize that my offhanded attempts at sarcasm and humor were not as witty as they were intended to be,” she said. “But even with this acknowledgment … I am not guilty for the crimes of which I have been accused.”
The indictments against Kelly and Wildstein, charge that they both intentionally shut down lanes crossing the bridge on the first day of school after the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey failed to endorse Christie’s 2013 re-election bid may have a profound effect on the New Jersey Governor’s plans for an attempt at a presidential bid in 2016.