For 16 months, only the basic contours of the New Jersey George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal have been known, but a new indictment from federal prosecutors fills out in more detail the specifics of how and why, presenting the lengths three accused conspirators, aides and an ally of Gov. Chris Christie went to, and the delight they took, in concocting their scheme and the sham story to cover it up, the New New York Times reports. . Two of the three, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, were indicted, while the third, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty. Evidence showed the three plotting like petulant and juvenile pranksters, using government resources, time and personnel to punish a public official whose sole offense was failing to endorse their political patron.
The three were in constant contact, brazenly using government emails, their tone sometimes almost giddy. The charges show the step-by-step, carefully coordinated attention paid by the three associates of the governor to create the perfect traffic jam, a veritable town-size parking lot, one that in the end may have stymied Christie's presidential ambitions. Baroni and Kelly proclaimed their innocence, saying that Wildstein, who is cooperating with the authorities, fabricated stories about their actions to help his case. The first mention of it came in March 2011, as Christie's star among national Republicans was first rising. Wildstein, then the chief of staff to Baroni at the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, mentioned to Baroni that they could use the local access lanes to the bridge from Fort Lee as leverage against the town's mayor, Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie.