A Port Authority police officer who grew up with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was at the George Washington Bridge to witness the lane closings, and was in communication with David Wildstein, a port authority official who has also been tied to the scandal, according to MSNBC.
Lieutenant Thomas “Chip” Michaels sent text messages to Wildstein updating him about the lane closures and their impact on the town of Fort Lee, according to documents submitted to the New Jersey legislative committee by Wildstein and reviewed by Brian Murphy and Steve Kornacki for MSNBC.
While at the bridge, Michaels sent Wildstein a text message to tell him he had an idea to “make this better,” according to MSNBC.
Documents submitted to the legislative committee show that Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich complained to the Port Authority that its police officers told commuters that the lane closures were the result of a decision made by Sokolich. The documents do not show whether Chip Michaels was one of those police officers, according to MSNBC.
Michaels grew up in Livingston, N.J. with Christie and has coached Christie’s son in little league hockey, according to MSNBC. And Michaels’ brother, Jeffrey Michaels, is a powerful GOP lobbyist in the state and has donated to pro-Christie groups.
Chip Michaels spoke about his friendship with Christie to the Newark Star-Ledger in 2010, according to MSNBC.
“We break his chops a little bit, just saying, ‘You’re the Governor?,’ looking at him laughing,” Chip Michaels told the the Star-Ledger. “It’s crazy. He grew up like everyone else in New Jersey. So to see him as a celebrity, it’s just really odd. But he’s the same guy. He’s a grounded guy.”