A Port Authority police officer with personal ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was at the George Washington Bridge when access lanes were closed last September and personally drove David Wildstein, the Christie appointee who supervised the closings, on a tour of the area as traffic brought it to a standstill.
Documents submitted to a New Jersey legislative committee by Wildstein also show that the officer, Lieutenant Thomas “Chip” Michaels, appears to have sent periodic text messages to Wildstein updating him on the effects of the lane closures and their crippling impact on the town of Fort Lee. In one message, on the first day of the lane closures, Michaels told Wildstein he might have an idea to “make this better.” It is not clear what he meant
Michaels, who joined the Port Authority Police Department in 1998 according to payroll records, grew up in Christie and Wildstein’s hometown of Livingston, N.J. In recent years, he coached Christie’s son at little league hockey. Michael’s brother, Jeffrey Michaels is among the most powerful Republicans in New Jersey politics – a lobbyist whose practice has soared in value during the Christie years and who has donated heavily to pro-Christie organizations.
Michaels’ presence at the lane closures with Wildstein is an important new detail because it places another person with long-time ties to the governor, this time in the Port Authority Police Department, at the scene witnessing the traffic surge that has since come to engulf Chrstie’s administration in legal inquires.
The revelation is also important because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich had earlier questioned the Port Authority Police Department’s actions during the closures. In a September 12 letter, Sokolich wrote to Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee who has since resigned, that residents had told him that “Port Authority Police Officers are advising commuters in response to their complaints that this recent traffic debacle is the result of a decision that I, as the Mayor, recently made.” There is no evidence that Michaels was one of these officers.
Christie emphatically denies taking part in or having any knowledge of the decision to close the lanes leading onto one of the busiest bridge in the world. He has said he doesn’t know why members of his inner circle would have ordered the lanes closed.
Video at MSNBC0