TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is going on the offensive after a former loyalist said he has evidence the Republican governor knew more than he has admitted about an apparently politically motivated traffic jam ordered by one of his staffers last year.
The governor’s political team sent an email Saturday to donors, along with columnists and pundits who might be in a position to defend Christie, bashing the man Christie put in a top post at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the accusations the man’s lawyer made in a letter Friday.
The email says the former Port Authority official, David Wildstein, “will do and say anything to save David Wildstein.”
The action from Christie’s supporters comes as Republicans are debating the implications of the scandal that this year has surrounded the administration of the possible 2016 presidential contender. It was sent at a moment when Christie is in the spotlight with his state hosting today’s Super Bowl.
Christie’s team noted that Wildstein did not present any proof to back up the claims his lawyer, Alan Zegas, made in the letter. The email also denies that Christie knew about the traffic jam or its political motive until after it was over and bashes Wildstein on a variety of fronts, characterizing him as a litigious teenager, a controversial mayor of Livingston, where Christie and Wildstein attended high school together, and for his past career as an anonymous political blogger.
Much of the email quoted newspaper articles that took critical looks at Wildstein, who resigned in December from a $150,000-per-year job that he got with Christie’s blessing. The Christie email notes that a 2012 article in the Record of Bergen County says Wildstein “was a very contentious person.”
Wildstein, the first of four people with Christie connections to lose a job because of the scandal, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Saturday.
Wildstein is among 20 people and organizations close to Christie who must comply with a new round of subpoenas from a legislative investigative committee by Monday.
When Wildstein appeared before a panel of lawmakers in January, he asserted his right against self-incrimination and refused to answer any questions.
Christie received a smattering of boos and some cheers during a pregame ceremony in New York on Saturday. He didn’t appear affected by the crowd’s reaction during the Times Square ceremony.