TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie’s administration defended itself Thursday against comments made by a federal judge who partly blamed a venomous climate inside state government on the orchestration of lane closures by two former aides at the George Washington Bridge for political revenge.
Former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly “got caught up in a culture and an environment that lost its way,” Judge Susan Wigenton said Wednesday before sentencing her to 18 months in prison. Co-defendant Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director at the bistate agency that controls the bridge, was sentenced to two years in prison.
“It’s very clear the culture in Trenton was ‘you’re either with us or you’re not,'” Wigenton said.
Brian Murray, a spokesman for the Republican governor, called Wigenton’s remarks “ill-advised” and said they were based on lies from the testimony of Baroni, Kelly and self-described mastermind David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty in the case.
“The work of the people who have been employed by the Governor’s Office has been honest, honorable, bi-partisan and effective,” Murray said. “The actions of the felons was the sad and unacceptable exception to the way the office has conducted itself for seven years.”
Baroni and Kelly are appealing their convictions for conspiracy, wire fraud and other offenses for causing the gridlock near the bridge in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who…