JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Five high-ranking New Jersey officials and one from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey canceled meetings with a city’s new mayor last year and offered no explanation, documents released by town officials show.
Steve Fulop, the Democratic mayor of Jersey City, says he believes the commissioners decided not to meet with him in July because he declined to endorse Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, the introductory meeting was arranged by Christie’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly. Christie announced he’d fired Kelly in a Thursday press conference.
He has been talking about the events since last week, when documents were released that showed that Christie aides and appointees were involved in the decision to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, a move that caused massive traffic jams in the nearby community of Fort Lee. The mayor there said he believes the lanes were closed to punish him for not endorsing Christie.
Jersey City released emails and text messages about setting up and then canceling meetings in response to open records requests from The Associated Press and other news organizations.
WEB EXTRA: Read The Emails
The emails back up the assertions Fulop made last week about the meetings being canceled abruptly in July, but they do not offer any insight into why the officials backed out.
In one, Fulop tells Port Authority Deputy Director Bill Baroni, “I am not sure if it is a coincidence that your office canceled a meeting several weeks back that seemed to be simultaneous to other political conversations.”
Baroni, a Christie appointee, has since resigned in the unfolding scandal over the Fort Lee closings.
Fulop eventually publicly said he was supporting Democrat Barbara Buono for governor.
Last week, Christie said that he and others have had disagreements with Fulop but did not explain the cancellations. On Monday, Christie spokesman Colin Reed said the administration continues to work with Jersey City officials.
“Fulop’s relationship over time with both the governor and Democrats in the Legislature has been inconsistent as he has made clear his future political aspirations,” Reeds said. “That doesn’t change the fact that Gov. Christie and everyone in his administration will continue working on behalf of Jersey City and all its residents.”
Fulop has been unavailable for comment, but released a brief statement saying his hope is that state decisions will be made on the merits. He added the released emails speak for themselves.
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