Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wildstein: 'If it was good for Christie, it was good for us'

David Wildstein arriving for Bridgegate trial in Newark on Friday - AP photo by Julio Cortez 
The architect of an alleged political-payback scheme to cause massive traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 testified Friday that he and another top New Jersey appointee at the bistate Port Authority served just "one constituent": Gov. Christie.

"If it was good for Gov. Christie, it was good for us; if it was not good for Gov. Christie, it was not good for us," David Wildstein said.

Chief among the Republican governor's priorities was using the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to help win endorsements for his reelection campaign three years ago, Wildstein testified

On behalf of the governor, Wildstein said, he and Bill Baroni, Christie's top executive appointee at the independent agency, tapped it to provide towns with grants, offer elected officials tours of the World Trade Center site, and distribute 100 flags that flew over ground zero on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

In a May 2011 email to Bridget Anne Kelly, then Christie's deputy chief of staff, who along with Baroni is on trial in the bridge case, Wildstein referred to the Port Authority as a "goody bag.

"I like goody bags," she replied, according to evidence admitted in court. "I appreciate it."

Taking the stand for the first time in the trial that began Monday, Wildstein said Baroni also observed the same "one-constituent" rule.

"The only person who mattered was Gov. Christie. He was the one constituent," Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty and is the government's star witness, told the court.

Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes how he knew he was abiding by the rule, Wildstein said, "I knew because we were either told it by the one constituent - Gov. Christie - or by members of Gov. Christie's staff. We received specific instructions."

Wildstein said he came up with the phrase and discussed it with Baroni at a Starbucks store in New York City after Baroni accepted his job as deputy executive director at the Port Authority in 2010.

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