Politics

Ex-Christie Aide Says She Thought She'd Get Fired for Reporting Possible Wrongdoing

May 7, 2014
 

A former staff member in Gov. Chris Christie’s office said in sworn testimony today that she feared the governor’s team would fire her if she reported suspicious activity by her boss in the wake of the George Washington Bridge controversy.

Christina Genovese Renna, who was a right-hand man to then-Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly when New Jersey toll lanes were closed on the world’s busiest bridge, said she "had no knowledge or involvement" in the plan.

In more than five hours of questioning from state lawmakers investigating the scandal, Renna described Kelly as erratic and unstable, saying she was "enormously overwhelmed and enormously stressed with day-to-day life."

Kelly wrote the famous email announcing "traffic problems in Fort Lee" weeks before the toll lanes were shut, causing a massive traffic holdup for days that has spawned not only state inquiries but also a federal criminal investigation into Christie’s administration.

But while Renna replied to nearly every question she was asked today, the two biggest ones in the scandal — who ordered the traffic jam and why? — remain unanswered.

Renna said it was hard to picture Kelly as the "architect" of the traffic jam, but added that "she was instrumental in the process."

Growing emotional at one point, and testy at others, Renna gave an inside look into the workings of Christie’s administration. She said staffers routinely used personal email accounts to handle government business; it was hard to get clear orders or explanations from Kelly; and one member of the staff, Evan Ridley, could not be trusted when he said he was meeting mayors.

When she began to suspect wrongdoing last year, Renna testified, she kept quiet because she feared she would lose her job if she spoke up.

In December, Kelly asked Renna to delete an email related to Fort Lee and the traffic jam — what Renna called a "strange" and "inappropriate" request. But she said she declined to report the incident to Christie’s chief counsel or other staff members.

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