On Thursday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow suggested that Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office may have caused traffic jams in Fort Lee last year to retaliate against the leader of the Senate Democrats in the administration’s ongoing feud with them over nominees to the state Supreme Court.
Maddow, who has followed New Jersey politics closely since her friend from Stanford University, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), became the Mayor of Newark and was seeking statewide office, opened her segment by saying, “Maybe it wasn’t about the endorsement.”
She then read an August 13, 2003 email from Bridget Kelly, Christie’s top aide who was fired, in which she wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
“Why then?” Maddow asked of what “appears to be an order from Gov. Christie’s office to unleash hell on Fort Lee.”
Maddow said both Christie and the Mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, have given plausible explanations for why Sokolich’s refusal to endorse Christie may not have been the reason that Christie’s administration decided to “destroy Fort Lee” for a week.
“If it wasn’t the endorsement question, what was it?” Maddow asked.
Maddow then put forth her case about why the traffic jam may have been retaliation against the leader of the New Jersey Senate Democrats, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee.
In 2010, Christie refused to reappoint a New Jersey state Supreme Court Justice, Democrat John Wallace, when he sought reappointment. And that was the first time that has happened in 63 years since New Jersey adopted its current state constitution.
As Mediaite noted, after Christie took that “unprecedented step of refusing to reappoint” Wallace for another term, New Jersey Democrats blocked all of his appointments to the court. And after Republican state Supreme Court Justice Helen Hoens came up for reappointment in 2013, Christie decided to pull her from the bench rather than subject her to the Senate Democrats who threatened a brutal nomination fight.
Christie held an angry press conference the day before Kelly sent her email. At that press conference, Christie said that he he would not feed Hoens to the “savagery” that would be coming her way from the “animals” that were the New Jersey Senate Democrats. Maddow then noted that on the very next morning, Christie’s aide sent the email to order some “traffic problems” in Fort Lee.
Maddow finished her segment by saying, “Until someone who knows the actual truth about this speaks, it remains a wide-open question.”