NJ State Senator to Call for Feds on Bridge Lane-Closing Scandal

Emails suggest GWB lanes were closed as political payback against a local mayor.

January 9, 2014, 7:11 AM

Jan. 9, 2014— -- A New Jersey state senator is calling for a federal investigation into the closing of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge last year after emails and text messages released Wednesday suggested that one of Gov. Chris Christie's top aides engineered traffic jams as political retribution.

Senior state Sen. Ray Lesniak told ABC News this morning that he will formally ask federal prosecutors in New York and New Jersey to investigate the growing bridge scandal. A request will also be made to the Manhattan district attorney, Lesniak said.

The U.S. Department of Justice today said it has no comment on the matter at this time.

The emails and text messages appear to indicate that the Christie aide orchestrated the lane closings and subsequent traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J., in September to punish the borough's Democratic mayor for not supporting Chistie's re-election campaign.

READ: How Will the Bridge Scandal Affect Chris Christie's Political Future?

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Bridget Anne Kelley, deputy chief of staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and a top Christie aide, wrote in an Aug. 13 email sent from her personal account.

The email was written to David Wildstein, director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority, which maintains the George Washington Bridge connecting the two states.

Wildstein replied, "Got it," also from his personal email account, according to the emails first posted online by The Record.

Several lanes were closed Sept. 9 on a busy weekday morning as commuters tried to get to work, children to their first week of school and emergency response personal to incidents in and around the borough of Fort Lee.

READ: Crisis Management Advice for Chris Christie

ABC News has obtained a letter from Fort Lee, N.J., EMS coordinator Paul Favia to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich that documents four medical situations in which emergency responders were delayed because of the traffic gridlock. In one case, a 91-year-old woman later died at a hospital of cardiac arrest.

Although Favia doesn't directly tie her death to the delays, he noted that "paramedics were delayed due to heavy traffic on Fort Lee Road and had to meet the ambulance en route to the hospital instead of on the scene."

Sen. Lesniak said, "In addition to abuse of government authority for political gain, I will ask to investigate reckless endangerment of lives, possibly criminally negligent homicide," a reference to the woman's death.

Christie, who has scheduled a news conference for later this morning, said in a statement Wednesday that he was "misled" by a staffer.

"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable," Christie said. "I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. "

The flap has dogged Christie for weeks as New Jersey Democrats have pursued an investigation and have suggested that Christie's aides sought to punish the Fort Lee mayor for not supporting Christie's re-election campaign by snarling traffic for nearly a week.

Wildstein resigned from his post in early December, citing the bridge controversy as a "distraction."

ABC News' Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.