Bridget Anne Kelly Lawyer: Bridge-gate Report 'Venomous, Sexist'

Saturday, 29 Mar 2014 10:48 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The report clearing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of wrongdoing in the Bridge-gate scandal contains "venomous, gratuitous, and inappropriate sexist remarks" about Bridget Anne Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, her lawyer says.

In the report, issued this week, the New York lawyer hired by Christie's office alleged Kelly was one of two responsible for orchestrating lane closings on the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, N.J., into New York City.

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However, the report also suggested the single mother of four had been involved in a failed romance with former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien, claiming that when he broke off the relationship, the emotional toll played a role in her actions to close the lanes.

Kelly, Stepien, and former Port Authority Director David Wildstein did not speak with those who prepared the Christie report, and Kelly's lawyer, Michael Critchley told The Star-Ledger of Newark Friday that the remarks about Kelly "have no place in what is alleged to be a professional and independent report."

The report is a "preemptive strike" that was meant to isolate Kelly and question her credibility, Critchley said in his statement to the newspaper.

"Ms. Kelly is not a liar," said Critchley. "She is a single mother of four children who was deeply devoted and committed to her job at the office of the governor. She worked tirelessly to pursue the goals of the office during her tenure."

Christie fired Kelly on Jan. 9, after emails emerged linking her to the the lane closings were revealed. Her email to Wildstein, saying that it was "time for some traffic problems," is being considered as evidence that Kelly and others orchestrated the closings to get back at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie's reelection campaign.

The report also depicted Kelly as being "nervous and weepy" with Christie staff members.
Critchley said that Randy Mastro, hired by Christie to do the report, based his statements on incomplete evidence, and in addition, David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority,also did not cooperate with the investigation.

On Friday, Samson stepped down from his Port Authority position, only saying that he'd been considering his resignation for several months and "the timing is now right."

Critchley said Kelly's information will be a major part of revealing the whole story behind the bridge lane closures, suggesting it would be in the best interests of Christie's office to discredit her.

Further, he noted that the report differs from Wildstein's version of the story, which holds that Christie knew about the closings while they were happening.

“Ms. Kelly's evidence could be critical to verifying either of the two competing versions of events,” he said, adding, “A preemptive strike to isolate Ms. Kelly and impugn her credibility is not surprising,”

Critchley indicated in his statement that if Kelly is given immunity or other protection, she will testify to federal authorities, saying that the only credible investigation is the one being done by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"If Ms. Kelly were provided with the appropriate procedural safeguards, she will be fully cooperative and provide truthful and complete answers to any questions asked of her by the appropriate law enforcement authorities," said Critchley.

Meanwhile, others expressed outrage over the report's personal revelations.

"I am the last person to be an apologist for Bridget Kelly, but it was gratuitous, it was sexist, it was inappropriate," New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat, told The Washington Post.  "They seem to want to suggest that if you were scorned by your partner, that of course the next logical thing is that you go out and close a bridge."

Weinberg, who is one of two co-chairs of the legislative committee investigating the bridge closings, also told The Daily Beast she does not know how Mastro and others doing the report even knew about the alleged Stepien-Kelly affair.

"How do they know that?" she said, noting the situation is making her angry. "Was that done to add to the credence that this was some crazy woman, some woman who is no longer in control of her emotions?”

But Mastro denied sexual bias against Kelly, telling The Daily Beast that the personal details were involved to show how communications had broken down between her and Stepien.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Weinberg said. "If there were no emails, there were no emails! Maybe there were [also] no emails between two other people. What does that mean? That they all had relationships and they broke up?”

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