Yet another misstep in the Chris Christie BridgeGate scandal appears to have been the product of rogue officials. Politico is reporting that the widely-criticized letter attacking former Port Authority official David Wildstein never got an okay from Chris Christie.
Politico initially published the letter, an email allegedly sent to friends and allies as a response to a claim from Wildstein’s lawyer that “evidence exists” that Christie knew of the George Washington Bridge closings. The missive alleged that David Wildstein “will do and say anything to save David Wildstein” and used a number of examples from his life to prove that the man who shut down the Fort Lee lanes of the George Washington Bridge was not to be trusted. Included in those anecdotes were several from high school, which Wildstein attended along with Christie.
The media condemned the letter’s attempts to smear Wildstein using high school legends as a desperate shot from a sinking ship. It also noted the amount of trust that Christie put in Wildstein, which contradicts the idea that Wildstein always had a reputation for shadiness–or at least made it seem like Christie was too naive to notice and exercised improper judgment in creating a job for Wildstein at the Port Authority.
But now Politico is claiming that Christie had nothing to do with that email and that aides published it without receiving the chief executive’s approval. According to two sources, “Christie’s aides did not run the document… by the governor before they sent it out.” The lines about high school were added later “into a daily briefing email to the governor’s supporters” and sent out “earlier than planned.”
Politico notes that Christie had personally requested being involved in the initial response to Wildstein’s claim, which was short and uncontroversial. He had considered the first draft of that response, sources say, “too harsh.” Perhaps given his reaction to the message, staffers chose not to ask for approval on the second email blast.
It would not be the first time that Christie’s staff is alleged to have worked independently of Christie, to the embarrassment of the governor. The governor claims that the entirety of the BridgeGate scandal, in which Wildstein and former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly shut down local lanes on the George Washington Bridge for political retribution (allegedly against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich), happened without his knowledge or consent. He was also allegedly not aware of any evidence that his office threatened Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that they would withhold Hurricane Sandy funding if she did not comply with their wishes.