Not Cool

03.28.14

The Slut-Shaming of Bridget Anne Kelly

The Bridgegate report commissioned by Chris Christie included gratuitous details about the personal life of one of his staffers.

When the results of the internal Bridgegate investigation, commissioned by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were released Thursday, it included a curious revelation. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff whom he fired on January 9 after the release of her smoking gun “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, had been involved in an affair with Bill Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager.

The report, which cost New Jersey taxpayers $1 million, states that “Kelly and Stepien became personally involved, although, by early August 2013, their personal relationship had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking.”

State Senator Loretta Weinberg, one of two co-chairs of the joint legislative committee investigating Bridgegate, told The Daily Beast that she believes this was an attempt to assassinate the character of Kelly.

“Maybe that’s what’s making me so angry,” Weinberg said in a phone call Thursday. “They’re talking about ‘a personal relationship’ and they put in the report that Mr. Stepien was the one who ended it—how do they know that? How do they know that? And was that done to add to the credence that this was some crazy woman, some woman who is no longer in control of her emotions?”

When asked why the affair was mentioned at all, Randy Mastro, an attorney at the white shoe firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which was hired to do the investigation, told the media at a press conference, “the relevance is that it may explain a lack of communication between [Kelly and Stepien].”

Weinberg scoffed at that answer. “And what does that have to do with anything? If there were no emails, there were no emails! Maybe there were [also] no emails between two other people. What does that mean? That they all had relationships and they broke up?”

Even if Mastro could make the case that explaining the lack of communication between Kelly and Stepien was necessary in his report, that does not explain why the report stated that Stepien had broken up with Kelly.

The Daily Beast reached out to Mastro to find out if there was a legitimate reason to include that fact. He responded, “As I explained at yesterday’s press briefing, these facts are unquestionably relevant because they help 'explain a lack of communication between the two of them during a critical period' when Kelly gave the “go-ahead” to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority, [to do the ‘traffic study’].” Mastro said that including that could explain how Kelly and Stepien “approached this issue and caused each of them to change the way in which they communicated with each other.”

Mastro also said that the “premise” of the question from The Daily Beast, that the inclusion of the fact that Stepien broke up with Kelly seemed gratuitous, and aimed to humiliate Kelly in a sexist manner, “is wholly unfounded.”

A spokesman for Governor Christie, Kevin Roberts, declined to comment on the matter altogether, stating “For questions on what was included or not included [in the report] you would need to go to Gibson Dunn, who conducted the investigation and authored the report.”

In addition to informing us that Kelly had been dumped by Stepien, Christie’s internal Bridgegate report says that Kelly “seemed emotional,” and that she was “habitually concerned with how she was perceived by the governor.”

Weinberg, audibly offended, continued, “When I read that, I’ll tell you, that’s what started to fuel my anger this morning. It was so gratuitous…How does [Mastro] know who ended the relationship? He didn’t talk to either Stepien or Kelly [while conducting the investigation] so how does he know? How does he know the relationship is over?”