A Big Piece of the Christie Bridge Conspiracy Revealed

Since the beginning of the Chris Christie bridge scandal, and especially since the release of Christie staffer emails on Wednesday, there’s been a major unanswered question: How would closing the toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge possibly harm Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the alleged target of the plot?

We’ve raised it here, Jon Stewart brought it up on Wednesday and Rachel Maddow theorized about it Thursday night. But with the release of a major tranche of documents from the New Jersey legislature, we might have an answer.

Via Business Insider, it turns out that Sokolich was told back on September 12 that officers from the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) were telling commuters that Sokolich himself was responsible for the lane closures. The revelation was contained within an email Sokolich sent to the former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. Baroni resigned last month.

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If this was indeed the case, the conspiracy included giving marching orders to PAPD officers who were instrumental in dropping the blame for the traffic jam in Sokolich’s lap. So not only did Wildstein and the other conspirators endanger public safety with a week-long, nightmarish traffic jam, but they chose to involve police officers as mouthpieces to spread their ill-conceived criminal enterprise.

It’s unclear whether the PAPD was an unknowing pawn or if it was clued in about what was going on. I’d like to believe the former: the unknowing pawn angle. Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out for sure soon enough.

In the bigger picture, the hole keeps getting deeper for Chris Christie who, if he was behind the plot or just knew about it, will not only suffer an end to his political career but also a serious legal battle, both civil and criminal.

  • kfreed

    “If this was indeed the case, the conspiracy included giving marching orders to PAPD officers who were instrumental in dropping the blame for the traffic jam in Sokolich’s lap.”

    This is nothing next to what Darrell Issa has been pulling. Republicans in general have been up to their ears in these tactics for the past five years: obstruct all progress just so they they can then turn around and point the finger at Obama and the Democrats for the continued suffering. Consider the traffic jam a metaphorical punch line.

    Know your Republican/Libertarian/Teabaggers:)

  • mrbrink

    “How would closing the toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge possibly harm Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the alleged target of the plot?”

    This is standard GOP election fraud stuff. This is wingnut modus operandi since Nixon’s people went behind LBJ’s back in Vietnam. They sabotage it– whether it’s foreign policy, the economy, or Obamacare– and then blame the democrats for failure to fix it, or “lead,” before ‘the children of Buono voters’ catch on.

    They were trying to punish people into voting out Sokolich, as this happened just before the election, making people’s lives as miserable as possible and making sure everyone knew who did this to them. “Sokolich, ‘the Serbian,’ did this to you!! Pass it along!”

    Some pretty fucked up shit, but all too typical of right wing politics.

    • kfreed

      “wingnut modus operandi”… exactly the descriptor I was looking for:)

  • icarrion

    You do realize all the time you spend on this Christie kerfuffle takes time away from blaming Obama about Benghazi, right?

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      HA!

      • Xeknos

        Guys, we can’t spend our time looking for terrible things that Obama has done if you keep focusing on actual, real scandals.

  • Trip Affleck

    i’m not sure why everyone thinks this will end Christie’s career; Republican voters don’t care if their candidate is a criminally immoral reprobate. if a multi-million dollar Medicare-defrauding felon like Rick Scott can get elected as Governor, Christie’s traffic jam is utterly meaningless to the ordinary GOPher voter.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Yep. While I’m not as confident as you about this, the thought has crossed my mind.

    • kfreed

      Except for the fact that they hate his guts for being nice to Obama once. Have you seen the wingnut coverage?

  • Sabyen91

    See wing-nuts? THIS is a scandal.

    • Christopher Foxx

      You sure about that? Because I checked with a couple of wingnuts and they assure me it isn’t.

  • Broca’s Area Rug

    As a side note: while many people seem to be responding to this bit of information as confirmation that Rachel Maddow’s interesting theory that Christie’s target was really NJ Dem leader Loretta Weinberg is a miss, I think the two together might actually make the story make more sense, in an odd way; there are several points that seem just a bit *too* vindictive and stupid even for the most bombastic political machine, and–STRICTLY as conjecture–I’d posit something like this to make coherent sense of them: 1) Like Maddow points out, Weinberg and Christie are frothily going at it in the press over judicial appointments the week of the bridge closure; 2) Christie gives Lee the go ahead to reach out to Baroni and Wildstein to close the bridge to eff with Weinstein’s district (Fort Lee); 3) his minions are smart enough to *not* put Weinstein’s name anywhere in the emails, because even these idiots realize that is about as crafty as posting a picture of yourself stealing a car to Facebook; 4) they need to give some kind of explanation for why they are closing the bridge, so they decide to tell PAPD that it’s Mayor Sokolich’s fault because the “little Serb” is an annoying Dem jerk-off to them anyways, and 5) they figure that even if anyone actually comes back with questions about whether the closure was “revenge on Sokolich,” Christie will be able to (as he did in earlier press conferences) point out how laughably illogical it would be for him to go after a guy as insignificant and unconnected as Sokolich and avoid suspicion. That series of events explains, for me, the otherwise puzzling questions of both why Sokolich was randomly worth messing with at all to begin with *and* why, if the more logical target was Weinberg, people though it was Sokolich to begin with…

  • profesorar
    • Christopher Foxx

      “I was actually panicking,” the Fort Lee woman said. “There were no cops. No signs. No one to direct us. It came out of nowhere. I had such anxiety my husband had to pull over so I could vomit.”

      Because of traffic?! God, I’m glad this woman has her husband do the driving.

      I’m glad to see the suits starting. Someone should be held liable for this, and if it goes as these things usually do no criminal charges will be filed. But the “Oh, seeing those cones gave me a case of the vapors!” folks are going to make the complainants look silly.

      • kfreed

        Guess you had to be there.

      • benanov

        There’s nowhere to go. You are trapped – at least, if you want to stay in your car (or not abandon your car) That can really freak some people out. Not too much of a stretch.

        • Christopher Foxx

          Hey, I know someone who will seriously panic at almost the mere mention of spiders. Folks have their irrational reactions.

          But that doesn’t make them any less irrational. “It came out of nowhere!”?? That’s what one says about shark attacks or when Freddy Krueger strikes. Not when traffic starts to slow and then comes to a complete stop, even for an overly extended time.

  • Christopher Foxx

    It’s unclear whether the PAPD was an unknowing pawn or if it was clued in about what was going on.

    I can’t imagine that the rank and file officers who would be interacting with the public were doing anything other than relaying the information the’d been given. To think otherwise would mean buying into the notion that dozens of people were knowingly involved in the conspiracy and none ever spoke about it.

    If someone at PAPD was aware the info was false and not similarly just passing on that which they’ve been assured is true, it would be one or two higher ranking folks.

  • KarenJ

    What’s the Christie-NJ version of the Kochtopus, or, as some refer, Cthulhu?

    From what anecdotes have been surfacing and from the gist of these Bridgegate e-mails, the tentacles of the Christiepus extend from Christie’s own office staff, directly under his purview, down to the most insignificant municipal issue in the smallest NJ hamlet.

    As evidenced by the continued lukewarm but real support from Dem mayors in NJ, obviously there’s a hidden motivation for them to “go along to get along”.

  • Jon Fox

    I have a feeling that the next stage of this scandal is other examples where Christie’s staff punished NJ political figures for sleights, real and imagined.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Oh, I’m sure there are other examples waiting to be found. Some already have been as noted in other columns posted here in the Banter (Christie reversing himself on supporting a judge, etc.).

      Folks don’t get the idea that they can retaliate with a massive traffic jam unless they’ve already had practice getting away with it. If this gathers enough more steam and it becomes more certain that Christie is really not coming back from it, victims who can do so without incriminating themselves as weak appeasers will pile on.

    • kfreed

      You ever noitice how it only takes one or two people to grow a spine before the flood gates open and a flood of spines pours out?