A high ranking member of New Jersey governor Chris Christie knew about the lane closures of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey just hours after it happened. Emails releasd show that Regina Egea, his incoming chief of staff, knew about the closures just three hours after they happened. Despite the governor saying he had no idea about the lane closures until days later, apparently many high ranking staffers were made aware of them and the chaos the closures caused in the New Jersey town.
Egea was a high ranking member of Christie’s cabinet as head of his Authorities Unit. She is now his incoming chief of staff. While she was head of the Authorities unit, she received the news about the lane closures from Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee who was then the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Baroni forwarded Egea an email form an outraged Patrick Foye, head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Foye wrote in the email that he was “appalled” by the “dangers created to the public interest.” Foye also wrote that “I pray that no life has been lost or trip of a hospital- or hospice-bound patient delayed.” Because of the closures, many paramedics were delayed and many allege that a 91-year-old woman died after an ambulance was delayed in reaching her.
Emails between Foye and Baroni also show that there was an intense effort by Baroni to cover up the incident after Foye threatened to tell the public about the lane closures. “There can be no public discourse,” Baroni emailed Foye. Foye replied : “Bill that’s precisely the problem: there has been no public discourse on this” .
This latest discovery is the latest blemish on Christie’s record as governor of New Jersey. It has been alleged that Christie and his staff ordered the lane closures as retaliation against Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich. A recent theory floated by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow suggests Christie was exacting revenge against Senate Democrat leader Loretta Weinberg. Senate Democrats, including Weinberg, refused to support a New Jersey Supreme Court appointee of his, so it’s alleged he closed the lanes to get back at her.
Egea has not commented throughout this scandal, but she may have to testify if the New Jersey Assembly subpoenas her. The assembly has until Tuesday to subpoena her for testimony. New Jersey residents and the nation wait to see what she will say about this incident that’s the biggest political scandal of 2014 so far.