David WildsteinNext Profile
Pinning the BridgeGate Scandal on Chris Christie
If they made a movie about David Wildstein’s roller-coaster political career and ties to high school classmate Chris Christie, it might be called “Revenge of the Nerd.”
In October, Wildstein, 55, abandoned his political guru when his testimony in the explosive Bridgegate trial helped prosecutors secure convictions against two officials in the Christie administration. Prior to the trial, Wildstein pleaded guilty to his role in the 2013 scheme to close multiple lanes of the busy George Washington Bridge to punish a local mayor.
When they were growing up in suburban Livingston, New Jersey, Wildstein was the geeky outcast, while Christie, the future Republican presidential candidate, was a popular jock.,
The chubby Wildstein, who was raised in an upper-middle-class secular Jewish family, went on to become a political wunderkind of sorts. He won election as mayor of his hometown as a Republican when he was just 25 and forged a promising career as a political consultant and blogger.
When Christie became governor of New Jersey, he gave Wildstein a top post at the Port Authority, the powerful agency that oversees bridges and tunnels in the New York area.
In court, Wildstein claimed that Christie, who has not been charged, knew about the phony traffic study plan as it unfolded. Christie has repeatedly and forcefully denied the allegation and also said that he wasn’t really friends with Wildstein in high school.
Christie’s alleged complicity could have been a national bombshell if Christie had won the GOP nomination or been named Donald Trump’s running mate. And, in the wake of the successful Trump campaign, it may have played into Christie losing out as chairman of Trump’s transition team — giving Wildstein the last laugh.