Updated: January 13, 2014, 3:05 PM
The world of the George Washington Bridge scandal is continually expanding. More of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) allies are being tied to the drama, and more of his enemies are jumping into the fray.
With thousands of pages of documents recently released in the scandal, the cast of characters involved in it has expanded. Here’s an updated breakdown of everybody you need to know and what role they’ve played.
CHRISTIE’S INNER CIRCLE
Bridget Anne Kelly, Deputy Chief Of Staff To Gov. Chris Christie
“Time for the traffic problems in Fort Lee” seems likely to be Kelly’s political epitaph. It’s a one-line email that she sent to Wildstein, appearing to set off the chain of events that led to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge this September. Until last week, she was the governor’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, and she was a part of the administration since 2010. But Christie fired her soon after the email came to light.
Regina Egea, Chief Of Staff To Gov. Chris Christie
The documents released last week by Democratic legislators show that Egea, who became Christie’s chief of staff in December, was aware of the bridge lane closures from almost the beginning. At the time, she was the director of the authorities unit at the governor’s office. She was forwarded an incensed email by the head of the Port Authority on Sept. 13 — the closures started Sept. 9 — from one of Christie’s appointees at the agency, Bill Baroni.
Bill Stepien, Campaign Manager For Gov. Chris Christie
Stepien is frequently described as one of Christie’s closest advisers and was expected to play a key role if he pursued the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. His level of involvement in the scandal is unclear, but released emails showed him discussing the media coverage of the lane closures with one of Christie’s appointees at the Port Authority who is at the center of the firestorm, David Wildstein. He also called the Fort Lee mayor an “idiot.” Christie announced at his press conference last week that he had instructed Stepien not to run for the New Jersey Republican Party chairmanship and to step down as a consultant for the Republican Governors Association, which Christie currently heads.
Michael Drewniak, Spokesman For Gov. Chris Christie
The governor’s mouthpiece was revealed to have an affinity for profanity in the emails released by Democratic legislators. He referred to a Star-Ledger reporter poking around the lane closures as “such a fucking mutt.” But as importantly, he made plans to meet with Wildstein in early December. Though what happened at the meeting isn’t yet known, Wildstein announced his resignation that same week.
Kevin O’Dowd, Former Chief Of Staff To Gov. Chris Christie And Attorney General Nominee
O’Dowd was serving as Christie’s chief of staff during the lane closures, and Kelly would have presumably reported to him. O’Dowd hasn’t been implicated in the emails and records released thus far, but Democratic legislators have said that they will delay until he testifies about what he know about the lane closures.
David Wildstein, Former Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey Official
He was appointed to the post by Christie, and he and the governor have reportedly been friends since high school. Wildstein has been at the heart of the scandal. Another Port Authority official told New Jersey lawmakers that it was Wildstein who had ordered the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. He allegedly instructed bridge officials to conceal the closures from police and other local authorities.
It was Wednesday’s leak of Wildstein’s exchange with one of Christie’s top advisors about the lane closures that brought the scandal inside the governor’s house. Wildstein announced his resignation from his post on Dec. 7.
Bill Baroni, Former Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey Official
Another Christie appointee and a former state legislator. He told a legislative committee that the closures had been part of a traffic study, a rationale that appears even further undermined with the latest revelations. Sokolich contacted Baroni to ask for help after the lane closures caused significant traffic problems in his city.
Baroni resigned on Dec. 13, less than a week after Wildstein stepped down.
Patrick Foye, Executive Director Of The Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey
An appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his role is small, but crucial: He testified before a legislative committee that no traffic study had been planned, contradicting the excuse offered up by Christie allies.
THE JERSEY DEMOCRATS
Mark Sokolich, Mayor Of Fort Lee, N.J.
Supposedly, Sokolich’s unwillingness to endorse Christie in his 2013 governor’s race was the catalyst for the entire episode. Sokolich, a Democrat, was re-elected to a second four-year term as mayor of the 35,000-person borough in 2011. The story goes that Christie wanted Sokolich’s endorsement to widen his eventual landslide victory margin over opponent Barbara Buono even further, but Sokolich refused to give it. He has speculated in the months since that the lane closures that they were political retribution for his insubordination.
John Wisniewski, New Jersey Assemblyman
Wisniewski, a Democrat and state lawmaker since 1996, has been the lead legislative investigator of the bridge affair. He’s held hearings, issued subpoenas and insisted that the responsibility for the closures went higher than Christie’s allies at the Port Authority.
His subpoena of Wildstein led to the thousands of pages of documents that were released last week.
Loretta Weinberg, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader
Weinberg is another Democratic stick in Christie’s side, who assumed the majority leadership in 2012. She has also pushed the notion that the lane closures were politically motivated. After the new emails tied them to Christie direct advisors, Weinberg asserted that criminal charges were possible.
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