A friend and longtime political ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will enter a guilty plea to federal charges related to the Fort Lee lane closure scandal known as “bridgegate.”
Wildstein ordered lanes closed near the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, causing traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey after an email from Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly that said only “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The exact charges he will plead guilty to aren’t yet known, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Grand Jury Had Been Hearing Evidence About the Scandal For 4 Months
According to Bloomberg, a grand jury has been hearing evidence from U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman for four months. Wildstein would be the first to be convicted in the scandal investigation.
2. He Was Appointed to His Position at the Port Authority By Christie
Wildstein was Governor Chris Christie’s senior representative to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
He resigned from his position as a result of the scandal.
3. His Attorney Previously Said the Governor Was Aware of the Lane Closure Plan
Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, previously said that Christie was aware of the lane closures before they happened, according to Bloomberg.
The scandal tarnished Christie’s reputation despite the fact he denied any role in what happened. The Republican governor is weighing a run for president.
4. Emails Revealed the Conspiracy to Close the Lanes
In September 2013, the Port Authority closed lanes to the George Washington Bridge for a “traffic study.” The closures had disastrous effects on traffic heading from Fort Lee in Democrat-dominated northern New Jersey to New York City.
It did not take long before people began suspecting the unplanned closures were political retribution because the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, refused to back Christie’s campaign for re-election.
5. He & Christie Were Childhood Friends
Chris Christie and Wildstein attended the same high school. While in school, according to a long article published by NorthJersey.com, Wildstein became politically active and even worked as a campaign volunteer with Christie. Despite their proximity, Christie maintains that the two knew each other but were not “friends.”
Christie said at his Thursday morning press conference:
Well, let me just clear something up, OK, about my childhood friend David Wildstein. It is true that I met David in 1977 in high school. He’s a year older than me. David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even acquaintances in high school. I mean, I had a high school in Livingston, a three-year high school that 1,800 students in a three-year high school in the late ’70s, early 1980. I knew who David Wildstein was. I met David on the Tom Kean for governor campaign in 1977. He was a youth volunteer, and so was I. Really, after that time, I completed lost touch with David. We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school.