Bridget Anne Kelly, the fired deputy at the center of the Chris Christie bridge scandal, is a New Jersey soccer mom with four kids who enjoys running, red wine, and the Broadway soundtrack to "Once."
She's also, according to the governor of New Jersey, the one who spearheaded the September lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that caused a massive traffic gridlock that overflowed into the streets of nearby towns, like Fort Lee, N.J.
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"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Kelly, who served as Christie's deputy chief of staff, wrote in an Aug. 13 email to Port Authority executive David Wildstein. The scheme was allegedly meant as political payback for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich who reportedly wouldn't endorse Christie's reelection campaign.
Following is the "smoking gun" email. (Keep scrolling to see related texts, messages and memos below it)
Christie spoke out on Thursday, just hours after firing Kelly, and said he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by her "stupid and deceitful" actions.
But who exactly is Bridget Anne Kelly? Meet the woman who seemingly orchestrated the scandal and read the emails and messages that ended her once-blossoming political career.
1. She's a recently divorced mom of four.
A Ramsey, N.J., native, the 41-year-old graduated from Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland in 1994 with a degree in political science, according to her now-deleted biography on the Christie administration's website. She previously worked as a legislative aide to Assemblyman David C. Russo and was appointed his chief of staff in 2002.
She joined Christie's staff in 2010 as director of legislative relations and was promoted to deputy chief of staff, a $140,000 a year gig
, in April 2013.
Kelly was married to Joe Kelly, a golf pro at Mendham Golf & Tennis Club, for 16 years before filing for divorce in December 2011. She cited "irreconcilable differences," according to the New York Post
. The two now have joint custody of their four children, ages 17, 14,10, and 7.
Her now-defunct Twitter account (which is still viewable in a cached version here
) mentions running in a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, enjoying a glass of red wine, listening to the soundtrack for "Once," and her love of the Irish singer Enya.
2. She was extremely close to Christie.
Kelly was one of Christie's top aides who worked as his liaison to other government agencies. Beyond that, the two seemed to be friends. The governor was even photographed along with other staff members at a restaurant for Kelly's 40th birthday party, according to the New York Daily News.
"I trusted that I was being told the truth, and I wasn’t, and I wasn’t by somebody who I placed a significant amount of trust in," Christie said Thursday at his press conference. "You can only imagine, as I was standing there in my bedroom with my iPad looking at that, how incredibly sad and betrayed I felt. I don’t know what to say beyond that."
Christie said he has not spoken to Kelly about the motivations behind her August email to Wildstein and is "not interested" in hearing why she lied.
3. Colleagues always thought she was "friendly and nice."
Many former colleagues and people who had political dealings with Kelly said she was always professional, "friendly, and nice."
"I don't remember her being a cut-throat political operative in any way," Daniel Quinonez, a Washington-based public relations consultant who worked in Bergen County politics, told Bloomberg
. "She was more of a policy person who, if there was something happening in town, worked with the local officials."
Quinonez and Kelly went head-to-head when they worked against each other in a 2002 Republican primary for the U.S. House but even then, Quinonez said, she was never mean-spirited.
"There was a lot of bad blood in that race, but Bridget wasn’t the one who caused it," he said.
Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club who worked closely with Kelly for years, said he was shocked to hear that she had been implicated in the bridge scandal.
"The administration doing this doesn’t surprise me. Bridget Kelly — that does surprise me," he told the Daily News. "I don’t believe she would do this on her own. I just don’t see her having this kind of side to her."
4. She has yet to comment on the scandal or her firing.
Though reporters have been camped outside her Ramsey, N.J., home, Kelly has not yet commented on the scandal, her role in it, or her firing.
A mom whose kids go to school with some of Kelly's children said she was surprised to hear that Kelly was involved in the scandal.
"I am just shocked that she could be so petty and reckless," the woman told the Post.
William Kelly, her ex-father-in-law, had a brief message for Bridget Anne Kelly:
"We're just praying for her, and my son and the four children," he told the Daily News. "We’re just praying for them."
5. This too shall pass… but maybe not yet for Kelly.
Though she's already been publicly embarrassed and fired from her high-paying job as Christie's deputy chief of staff — a role that could have really taken off if he decides to make a 2016 run — the storm may not be over for Kelly quite yet.
John Wisniewski, chairman of the State Assembly's transportation panel, told Bloomberg Thursday that he plans to subpoena Kelly as part of an investigation into the bridge lane closures.
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