"Ready for dinner"
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has tried his damnedest to distance himself from David Wildstein, the now-disgraced former Port Authority official who was one of the key players responsible for engineering the traffic disaster in Fort Lee.
But according to a new report from CNN, the only reason Wildstein, the former editor of a political website and high school buddy of the governor, was given a position in the Port Authority is because people representing Christie’s office directed Port Authority officials to “to find a place for Wildstein at the executive level.”
Following Christie’s office’s command, Port Authority officials “created” a position “specifically for Wildstein.”
Despite a Christie spokesperson’s earlier contention that Wildstein was not acting as Christie’s eyes and ears at the Authority, as many have alleged in the wake of bridgegate, anonymous Authority officials told CNN that they were “careful about what they said when Wildstein was in the room, always assuming it would get back to Christie.”
Christie distanced himself from Wildstein after the story broke. While he and Wildstein attended the same high school, Christie said, “David and I were not friends in high school. We were not even acquaintances in high school.”
High school acquaintances contacted by CNN backed up the governor. Christie was on Livingston High School’s baseball team. Wildstein was the team’s statistician. The former coach of the team, Tony Hope, said the two could not have been more different.
“Nobody could ever say a bad thing about Chris, they loved him. David was the extreme opposite,” Hope said. “David was very quiet, also extremely intelligent, but he didn’t have great social skills … he kept to himself, a nice individual but never really related to his peers.”
Wildstein had a different reputation throughout the Port Authority. Several sources said he would sometimes yell and threaten to have employees fired when they repeatedly contradicted him or pushed back on his initiatives.
Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.More Elias Isquith.