Second NJ mayor says he was punished

Emails released Monday suggest a second New Jersey mayor was punished last year after declining to endorse Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) reelection.

Christie’s aides arranged meetings between Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a Democrat, and some of the governor’s top commissioners, The Wall Street Journal reports after viewing the documents. 

Those meetings were canceled the day that Fulop decided not to endorse Christie, the documents show.

ADVERTISEMENT
The meetings were to include the heads of the Department of Community Affairs, the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, the state Department of Transportation and the state Economic Development Authority, the report says.

Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Christie’s then-deputy chief of staff, helped to organize the meetings. Christie fired Kelly last week, after emails revealed she was involved in the closures of lanes on George Washington Bridge.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Congratulations, Mayor Elect! What an exciting time for you, and for the city. We're looking forward to working closely with you and your administration," Kelly wrote to one of Fulop's assistants on June 20.

Kelly then listed who Fulop would meet with on July 23 and 29. "There may be others that you see relevant, and I'd be happy to add those. I defer to you and your teams,” Kelly added. Port Authority Executive Director Bill Baroni had also been added to the list. 

The meetings, the report suggests, were arranged to help the mayor implement projects in Jersey City. 

After emails on July 16 confirmed the meetings, Fulop was informed two days later by his aide that four commissioners had canceled. That same day — July 18 — Fulop had also expressed to Christie’s administration that he wouldn’t endorse the governor for reelection. A day later, Baroni canceled, and so did the last commissioner on July 22. No explanation was given for the cancellations, the emails show. 

Fulop tried to reschedule the meeting with Baroni via email, but his requests were not returned, the documents show, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"Mayor Fulop believed the cancellations were connected to his decision not to endorse Governor Christie," Fulop's spokeswoman told the paper.

Fulop wrote an email to Baroni in August and expressed he was suspicious that his decision to not endorse Christie caused him to cancel their meeting. 

"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," Fulop wrote. "Prior to that you were always very responsive and I sincerely hope the two issues are not related."

Fulop told the Journal he did nothing wrong and that the situation is clear.

"The emails that were requested speak for themselves. Our administration has sought to operate in a professional and cooperative manner with the Christie Administration," Mr. Fulop said in a statement.

These new accusations come less than a week, after a series of separate emails showed Christie’s top aides helped orchestrate lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September. The documents indicate it was an act of political retaliation toward Democrat Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., which is where the traffic jam on the bridge took place. Sokolich also chose not to endorse Christie.