On Friday, David Wildstein, who served as one of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges stemming from Bridgegate, the infamous 2013 lane-closure incident on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.
The scandal, which dominated national headlines, was hawked as the politics of retribution at its most vindictive. On Friday, a 16-month federal investigation concluded that the closures were politically motivated as an act of revenge against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich who opted not to endorse Christie during his 2013 reelection bid.
The governor's office initially argued that the lanes had been reduced for "a traffic study," even as Christie himself claimed that he had nothing to do with it. An investigation eventually wended its way to the governor’s office, revealing an email from Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, to Wildstein advising him that it was “time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Kelly was indicted on Friday, along with Bill Baroni, another high-level Port Authority appointee, for nine conspiracy and fraud charges.
In announcing Wildstein's plea and the two indictments at a press conference on Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman characterized the lane reductions as "a deliberate and illegal scheme."