David Wildstein, the mayor turned blogger turned disgraced Port Authority figure that Governor Chris Christie has spent the past two weeks distancing himself from, is cited as the governor’s “eyes and ears” in a 2012 article from the Bergen Record which also warns of Wildstein’s proclivity for advancing a “political agenda.”
The article, featuring Christie’s and Wildstein’s yearbook photos from when they were high school classmates, demands many questions of Christie’s two-hour press conference last week, when the Governor denied being too close to Wildstein. “You know, I could probably count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had with David since he worked at the Port Authority,” Christie told reporters, refuting the media claims that the two were close.
Wildstein (pictured, center) was a recipient of an email from former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly stating, “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” He is also the protagonist in many of the private emails released by the New Jersey Legislature in creating the massive traffic jam in the small town and was known to have been at the George Washington Bridge on September 9, the first day of the local lane closings, to ensure the “traffic study” was underway.
Contrary to Christie’s suggestions this month, the Record article calls Wildstein Christie’s “eyes and ears” and someone with a “key behind-the-scenes role” in reforming the Port Authority. It anonymously quotes Port Authority workers concerned that Wildstein was a political operative sent to keep them ideologically aligned with Trenton. Sources then described Wildstein as “a man intent on carrying out a political agenda rather than one built on reform or improving the region’s transportation system.” “What he was watching for was strict adherence to the Christie agenda,” said one Port Authority worker interviewed for the article.
Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesperson now known as the most profane and anti-media person in the New Jersey Legislature email dump last Friday, described Wildstein then as “well suited to the task of playing a role in reforming the Port Authority in accordance with the governor’s goals.” Wildstein was known to attend meetings in lieu of Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni who also plays a prominent role in orchestrating last September’s bridge closings with Wildstein in private emails.
Another interesting anecdote involves a reporter talking to Wildstein after the announcement of his hiring, asking him to expand upon the role he would take in his new Port Authority job. After refusing comment, the reporter asks with some exasperation why Wildstein won’t comment publicly on his job. “Because I don’t do anything publicly,” he responds.
Wildstein pled the Fifth to every question when subpoenaed before the New Jersey Legislature and was held in contempt for not answering questions. Today, the Record reports that Wildstein is allegedly open to discussing his role in the bridge lane closures in exchange for legal immunity.
Wildstein’s role in closing local lanes to Fort Lee on the George Washington Bridge, allegedly for political retribution against that town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, is a prominent one. He can be seen planning the closures in private emails and many have linked him directly to the Governor, alleging that he was acting on orders straight from the top. Wildstein was seen on the first day of closures in photographs with the Governor, despite Christie’s alleging he had not had many conversations with Wildstein since he was first appointed to a job that CNN reports was custom made for him.
Wildstein, who wrote for the website PolitickerNJ.com for a decade under the pseudonym “Wally Edge,” was once a New Jersey mayor who turned his back on public life for private political power. In an announcement that Politicker had been sold to the New York Observer, Wildstein thanks a number of Republican officials for having to handle speculation that they were writing under his pseudonym and announces new columns coming to the site thanks to the merger, including work from current MSNBC host Steve Kornacki.
Wildstein is expected to continue as a key figure in the New Jersey Legislature’s investigation of the bridge incident, especially in light of the twenty subpoenas issued by the legislature’s committee last night.