Christie Runs “Paramilitary Organization,” Says Democratic Ex-Foe After New Bridge Emails

Barbara Buono says the governor is the “ringleader” of New Jersey officials who deliberately snarled traffic in an apparent move to punish a Democratic mayor.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Barbara Buono, the Democrat who ran against Chris Christie in New Jersey last year, accused him of running a “paramilitary operation” Wednesday after emails were published showing his appointees closed part of the George Washington Bridge to pursue a political vendetta.

In September, several lanes of the bridge were closed, snarling traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The emails reveal officials of the Port Authority sought to create “traffic problems” to punish Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich, apparently for not endorsing Christie for reelection.

When one Port Authority official was told school buses were having trouble getting through the traffic jam created by the lane closure, Christie executive David Wildstein dismissively wrote, “They are the children of Buono voters.”

“When I heard about it when it initially surfaced in September, I knew it was an act of political retribution,” Buono told The Daily Beast. “And to suggest that Christie wasn’t aware and didn’t direct it, I thought was ludicrous at the time.”

“This is a guy who runs a paramilitary operation,” Buono continued. “His people don’t sneeze without checking with him first. But I think what really was the most damning [revelation] was the cavalier attitude that these folks had about subjecting children and the public to public safety hazards. These are terrible people, and the ringleader is Chris Christie.”

Christie’s office has not responded to request for comment.