‘Bridgegate’ scandal’s Bridget Anne Kelly on defensive in NJ race
Bridget Anne Kelly — whose conviction in the “Bridgegate” scandal was overturned by the US Supreme Court — was ripped in a recent debate by her Democratic Bergen County clerk race opponent for the politically motivated 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Two-term incumbent Democrat John Hogan on Tuesday rehashed the monumental incident, charging Kelly’s career was “not exactly a distinguished” one, and that her public service work was “appointed political jobs,” the Bergen Record reported.
Hogan added that he’s “not sure her past qualifies her” for the post of county clerk, a role that includes recording, filing and maintaining many public records as well as assisting with administering elections.
Kelly — a former aide to ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who authored the notorious “time for some traffic problems” email — maintained her innocence in the debacle.
“I didn’t do anything,” Kelly said during a debate in Teaneck, hosted by the Bergen County chapter of the NAACP, according to CBS 2. “I can assure you, I had no role in closing or realigning the lanes of the bridge.”
“I was convicted, yes, on nine federal charges, and then guess what? My conviction was overturned,” she reportedly added. “I didn’t close the bridge, Mr. Hogan. I did not close the bridge.”
The Republican challenger insisted she was merely a scapegoat for more powerful officials, including one “that even ran for president,” in a reference to Christie’s 2016 Republican presidential primary bid, according to the Bergen Record.
Kelly wrote the infamous email with the subject line “Time for some Traffic Problems in Fort Lee” as part of a scheme to diverted traffic from the George Washington Bridge entrance into Fort Lee. The ploy was enacted in order to exact revenge against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, because he did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid.
Kelly was found guilty in 2016 for her part in devising the Fort Lee traffic jam plan — which reduced traffic to the bridge from Fort Lee to just one lane, causing major backups in for days — along with Christie’s Port Authority executives Bill Baroni and David Wildstein.
Christie was not charged with any wrongdoing.
But in May 2020, the US Supreme Court overturned the federal convictions against Kelly and Baroni.
Her involvement in the Fort Lee incident becoming a campaign issue is not a surprise to Kelly. She told The Post in January that she expected it to come up and that wouldn’t shy away from directly addressing the matter.
“It’s not something I’m afraid to talk about,” Kelly said previously. “I testified for four or five days in a federal trial. I wasn’t afraid of the US Attorney’s Office. I’m not afraid of this.”
In addition, her rival, Hogan, Hogan told a local outlet that her email disqualified her from future public service.
She’s already had an opportunity at public service and I don’t think she should be rebuilding her life on the public dime,” Hogan told NorthJersey.com. “You can’t take that email away. Maybe the Supreme Court decided that she didn’t break any laws but it was certainly unethical.