Documents released Monday indicate that meetings arranged between top commissioners to Gov. Chris Christie and Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop were abruptly canceled without reason last year—providing evidence of Mr. Fulop's claim that he was cut off after he decided not to endorse the governor.According to the documents, Fulop's meetings were initially scheduled with the help of Bridgette Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff fired last week by Gov. Chris Christie. Among those meeting with Fulop: Bill Baroni, who was then Christie's top aide at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal through a public records request showed communications between Mr. Fulop and Christie administration staff members arranging the meetings in June and July, until the commissioners all canceled one meeting after another.
The documents don't indicate why the meetings were scrapped, but Mr. Fulop has said that he was punished for declining to endorse the governor.
But when Fulop decided not to endorse Christie's reelection campaign, all of the meetings were canceled. When Fulop asked for an explanation for the meeting cancellations—including from Baroni—he received no response. The timing, however, lends weight to his theory that the cancellations were politically motivated.
Fulop's name appears in the documents released last week showing that there was a political motivation to the Fort Lee lane closures. David Wildstein, the Christie appointee tasked with carrying out the lane closures, was asked by Kelly whether or not Baroni had called the Fort Lee mayor about the lane closures. His response: "Radio silence His name comes right after mayor Fulop."
Given Kelly's coordination with both Baroni and Wildstein not just in the Fort Lee incident but also with Fulop's meeting cancellations, it's worth remembering that a big part of Christie's "don't blame me" strategy at his press conference last week was to talk about the Port Authority as if it were an agency over which he had no influence.
There's no way that anybody would think that I know about everything that's going on, not only in ever agency of government at all times, but also every independent authority that New Jersey either has on its own or by state -- both with New York, with Pennsylvania and with Delaware. So what I can tell you is if people find that hard to believe, I don't know what else to say except to tell them that I had no knowledge of this -- of the planning, the execution or anything about it -- and that I first found out about it after it was over.Even at the time, that seemed like nonsense, given Kelly's involvement in the Fort Lee lane closures. Now we know she was also involved in helping another mayor set up meetings that included a meeting with the head of the Port Authority—and that those meetings were cancelled after the mayor declined to offer his political support to Christie. Obviously, there's still more investigating to be done (the State Assembly today announced the creation of a new panel to lead the investigation), but it's clear that Kelly saw the Port Authority as a political tool and that Baroni was happy to help. Christie may not have been aware of the all the particular details at any given moment, but it's hard to imagine that he wasn't unaware of the bigger picture of what was going on.