An internal Port Authority email released Friday suggested that a Wall Street Journal reporter began asking questions about the George Washington Bridge scandal after editors from the newspaper got caught in the multi-day traffic jam caused by the lane closures.
The email, dated Sept. 16, was part of a trove of subpoenaed documents released by a New Jersey legislative committee that has been investigating the incident.
“WSJ reporter Ted Mann called, looking to do a story on the Fort Lee toll booth issue,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesperson Steve Coleman wrote. “Ted said that some Wall Street Journal editors commute to work via the GWB and through the tolls booths in question and became stuck in the traffic last week. They initially were unsure of what was going on until they read John Cichowski’s stories in the Bergen Record. Ted has questions about the traffic study that was referenced in Cichowski’s stories and what prompted the closing of the toll booths. […] Please advise on how we should respond.”
The email was sent to a number of Port Authority officials, including David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, two executives appointed by Gov. Chris Christie (R) who have since resigned their positions. According to the documents released Friday, Wildstein forwarded the email to Baroni’s Gmail account.
“I call bullshit on this,” Wildstein wrote.
On Thursday, Wildstein refused to answer questions about the scandal from the New Jersey Assembly’s Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee. Democrats in the state have alleged for months that the lane closings were retaliation against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, who declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid last year.
After the release of the documents on Friday, both Mann, the Journal reporter, and the newspaper’s deputy New York bureau chief reacted to the released email on Twitter.
“For the record, my editors take the train,” Mann wrote Friday afternoon.
“Nor have we ever asked [Mann] to look into traffic problems,” Michael Amon, the newspaper’s deputy New York bureau chief, added. “NJTransit delays are another story entirely though.”