Bridgegate’s Kelly Announces Candidacy for Bergen Clerk

The prosecution and sentencing of Bridget Anne Kelly, who was named as a co-conspirator in the Bridgegate scandal that closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013, to 13 months in federal prison while many other male members of Chris Christie's administration were complicit in these events not only went free but advanced their careers, show that justice is not blind for everyone.

Bridget Kelly this morning formally announced her candidacy for Bergen County clerk.

Kelly, a Republican, once a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, was convicted in 2016 along with Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, of fraud and civil rights violations for their roles in re-directing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee in 2013 creating a massive four-day traffic jam as retribution against the town’s  Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election.

They conspired with David Wildstein, at the time director of capital projects at the Port Authority, to carry out the re-alignment under the guise of an Authority-sanctioned traffic study.  Wildstein struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty and testify against the other two in return for probation.

The Supreme Court last May threw out the convictions of two people involved in New Jersey’s “Bridgegate” scandal, including Kelly, according to a report in the Associated Press; and the feds threw out Wildstein’s guilty plea and cleared his criminal record.

The court said in a unanimous decision Thursday that the government “had overreached in prosecuting Kelly and Bill Baroni for their roles in creating a massive traffic jam to punish a New Jersey mayor who refused to endorse the reelection of then-Republican Gov. Chris Christie.”

Baroni hailed the decision as a ‘long-awaited victory‘ and said the Court ‘has vindicated me and made clear I committed no crime’ (read his full statement).

My initial reaction (and incidentally, you can find another column Lassiter wrote on the subject here, and columnist Fred Snowflack’s spot-on pre-decision take on the Supreme Court case here) a judgmental snicker. Then I made a donation. SO should you. Here’s why:

4. WOMEN ALWAYS TAKE THE FALL  I won’t portray Bridget Kelly as some feminist icon, but let’s be real: her treatment by the Governor reeks of misogyny. In that $1,000,000 taxpayer-funded report Chris Christie commissioned (ostensibly to self-exonerate) the Gov blamed Bridgegate on Kelly, his “emotional” and “erratic” former deputy chief-of-staff. Emotional, it was suggested, for being dumped by Bill Stepien, Christie’s two-time campaign manager (and later Donald Trump’s political adviser). Stepien and Kelly were promptly booted from Team Christie when Bridgegate came to light.

For his part, Stepien was promptly hired by a political action committee, “because of his political astuteness, his ability to analyze races and his ability to win campaigns,” his new boss said at the time. Thanks to Christie’s public, professional lynching of Bridget Kelly (with comments like ‘events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind’) Bridget Kelly remains, it would appear, unemployable.

Coincidentally, Chris Christie also has a daughter named Bridget. Here’s hoping when she reaches Bridget Kelly’s age, this brand of sexist scapegoating will be a relic.

3. SHE HAS FOUR CHILDREN  By letting Bridget Kelly twist in the wind on his behalf, Chris Christie deprived her of the means to support herself (and her four children.) It’s one thing to be ruthless to people your own size, but by destroying a subordinate in this manner, Chris Christie profoundly impacted Bridget Kelly’s four kids as well. So what’s an unemployable single mom with four kids and mounting legal bills to do?  She swallowed her pride and embraced a thoroughly modern solution: an online legal defense fund.

2. YOU OWE HER  Admit it, regardless of political persuasion, you’ve enjoyed the salacious, operatic quality of the Bridgegate saga. It has certainly been riveting theater. If you’re a democrat who feasted on this story, you owe her. If you’re a journalist whose job got a whole lot juicer with this scandal, you owe her. And most especially, if your name is Scott Walker or Jeb Bush you most definitely owe her. Good theater isn’t cheap and pitching in keeps the show going.


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  • Hancock212

    Why can’t Christie and all his people just go away. The last thing Bergen GOP needs is a candidate who was made famous for pulling a childlike prank, proving a lack of intelligence, poor judgement and no political acumen.

  • Joe

    Christie and his staff are Toxic to the core. Christie needs to just Die. He caused a Great deal of damage in this state. He is the nucleus to the rise of Norcross and Trump.

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