A former midlevel staffer to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is set to testify today before a legislative committee renewing its efforts to find out who closed lanes at the George Washington Bridge and why.
Christina Renna, who worked for former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly, is scheduled to appear before the 12-member panel in the state capital of Trenton. Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff, wrote “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” in an e-mail a month before the lane closings from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12 tied up roads in Fort Lee.
Renna’s role is described in a report commissioned by Christie, a Republican, that absolved him in the tie-ups. Kelly and David Wildstein, once a top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge, were blamed in a report by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The firm released interview summaries with 75 witnesses, including Renna.
When her “traffic problems” e-mail was released, Kelly called Renna at work, according to the Gibson Dunn report. Renna worked under Kelly in the Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs department of the governor’s office.
“Kelly was hysterically crying and said that she was sorry,” according to the summary of Renna’s interview. “Renna asked Kelly if she was going to come into the office, and Kelly said no. Kelly hung up and called Renna back at some point later in the day to ask Renna to log into Kelly’s Twitter and delete Kelly’s account, because people were tweeting ‘mean things’ about Kelly.”
Kelly’s office had dealt with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who said he believed the traffic jams were intended to punish him for not backing Christie’s re-election last fall. Gibson Dunn said in its report that Kelly called Renna and asked her to delete an e-mail that Kelly sent on Sept. 12, when Sokolich called to say he was “extremely upset.” Kelly wrote: “Good.”
Kelly made the request to Renna on Dec. 12 after Christie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, grilled her about her knowledge of the lane closings, the report said.
Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat who is co-chairman of the panel, said the Renna testimony will be “a point on the road of trying to find out all of the things that might have gone wrong here. We want to find out more about how exactly the IGA worked and who was in charge.”
Weinberg said “not much in the administration operates outside of the governor’s hands.”
Other witnesses scheduled to testify by June 3 are Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority; William Schuber, a commissioner at the bi-state agency; Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie; and Matthew Mowers, who also worked under Kelly in the IGA office.