Bill Baroni is the former Deputy Executive Director of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, who resigned last December amid controversy surrounding the September lane closures that turned the town of Fort Lee into parking lot. Baroni had testified in November that the closures were due to a traffic study, but failed to provide any documents related to said study.
Immediately after testifying, Baroni texted bridgegate co-conspirator David Wildstein, asking how the governor’s office enjoyed his performance:
Here’s what we know about Baroni:
1. He Was Given Up for Adoption By His Unmarried Mother
The circumstances of Baroni’s birth became a political issue in his first campaign for State Assembly in 2003. Baroni ran a campaign heavy on shoe-leather, attempting to oust incumbent Democrat Gary Guear by knocking on over 10, 000 doors in his district. Baroni’s campaign emphasized that he’d been a lifelong resident of Hamilton, New Jersey, so when his birth certificate revealed he’d been born in Jacksonville, Florida, Guear accused Baroni of being a liar.
As it turned out, Baroni had been born to an unwed Irish woman, who came to the United States to have her baby, ostensibly in secret. Catholic Charities arranged for his adoption by William Sr. and Geraldine Baroni of Hamilton Township, New Jersey. Geuar looked like he was cruelly mocking an adoptee. Baroni won his campaign, and was re-elected to the assembly in 2005.
2. He Was The Only Republican State Senator to Support Gay Marriage Bill
In 2010, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey was defeated by the Republican-controlled State Senate. Baroni was the only Republican to vote in favor of the measure.
In October 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that gays must be made eligible for marriage licenses, not just civil unions. Gay Marriage is now legal in the state.
3. Baroni Wrote the Book On Being a Fat Kid
In January 2012, a self-help book for the overweight co-written by Baroni was published. Fat Kid Got Fit tells the story of how Baroni mistook indigestion pains for a heart attack, back when he was a 300 pound 20 year old, and how this scare inspired him to take control of his body and life. Baroni joined Duke University’s Diet & Fitness Center’s immersion program, and the healthy-living tips he learned there form the basis of Baroni’s advice to readers.
4. He’s Been Involved in New Jersey Politics Since High-School
As a teenager, Baroni worked on the campaign of his hometown congressman, Christopher H. Smith.
He served as a chauffeur to then Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian in his failed campaign to unseat Senator Frank Lautenberg in 1994.
After his two terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, Baroni was elected to the State Senate in November 2007, occupying the seat until Governor Christie appointed him to the Port Authority in 2010.
5. Baroni Was Warned Lane Closures Could Be Life-Threatening
In the 2,400 pages of documents related to Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal released Friday, is an email sent to Bill Baroni and David Wildstein on the second day of the GWB lane closures, warning that the increased traffic had disrupted efforts to find a missing child, and provide emergency care to an elderly woman. The email was from PA employee Tino Lado, and reads in part:
Wanted you both have a heads-up — Peggy Thomas, Borough Administrator, called me regarding the increased volume and congestion…She mentioned there were two incidents that Ft Lee PD and EMS had difficulty responding to: a missing child (later found) and a cardiac arrest … If there is anything you need me to do, let me know.
Baroni and Wildstein continued the lane shutdown for two more days.