Bridget Anne Kelly
Bridget Anne Kelly
|Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of New Jersey|
April 2013 – January 9, 2014
|Preceded by||Bill Stepien|
|Succeeded by||Louis Goetting|
Bridget Anne Daul
December 18, 1972
Ramsey, New Jersey, U.S.
(m. 1995; div. 2012)
|Education||Mount St. Mary's University (BA)|
Bridget Anne Kelly is the former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, known for her participation in the Bridgegate scandal. Kelly, a New Jersey native, grew up in Ramsey and graduated from Immaculate Heart Academy in 1990. She graduated from Mount St. Mary's University in 1994 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science.
Kelly began her government career by working as a legislative aide to Assemblyman David C. Russo, later becoming Russo's chief of staff. In 2010, Kelly became Director of Legislative Relations under Governor Chris Christie. In April 2013, Christie appointed her to be his Deputy Chief of Staff.
Fort Lee lane closure scandal
On November 4, 2016, Kelly was found guilty in connection with the four-day closures of entrance ramps to the George Washington Bridge in the late summer of 2013, in part of what has been described as politically motivated retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
On August 13, 2013, Kelly sent an eight-word e-mail to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, that read, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Wildstein responded to Kelly's e-mail: "Got it." In a texting exchange the next day, Wildstein relayed to Kelly a text from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich in which he complained about the traffic jam and said, "The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Please help. It's maddening." "
On January 9, 2014, after the emails were disclosed, the governor announced that he had fired Kelly, calling her action "stupid" and "deceitful" and claiming her actions had caused him to mislead the public. That day, Kelly was named as a defendant in a federal class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that cited a civil conspiracy and "willful, wanton, arbitrary, and egregious official misconduct". In the wake of her firing, police established no parking zones outside of Kelly's home in Ramsey to keep press and gawkers away, while "no trespassing" signs were placed on the lawn of the home.
When she received subpoenas for documents from the New Jersey legislative committee, Kelly's attorneys indicated she would not comply with the subpoenas, citing their clients' Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure The committee voted to compel Kelly to produce the previously requested documents, instructing special counsel Reid Schar to "take all necessary steps" to enforce them. But Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson found no basis to force Kelly and Bill Stepien, the governor's two-time campaign manager, to comply with the subpoenas. The pair had objected to the requests, issued in January, asserting that being forced to identify and turn over records would violate their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. They called the committee's requests a fishing expedition. The Court agreed.
On May 1, 2015, Kelly was indicted on nine charges in connection with her involvement in the scandal. She pleaded not guilty. Courts have ruled that evidence provided in discovery by the US Attorney cannot be made public. Courts also ruled that all materials used to prepare the so-called Mastro Report which exonerated the Christie administration must be turned over to the defense. The state has denied Kelly's request for reimbursement of legal fees.
Conviction and partial exoneration
On November 4, 2016, the jury in the "Bridgegate" trial returned guilty verdicts on all counts against Bridget Kelly and co-defendant Bill Baroni. On March 29, 2017, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton sentenced Kelly to 18 months in prison and 500 hours of community service.
On November 27, 2018, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the majority of the convictions, overturning the determination that Kelly and Baroni had violated the civil rights of travelers, finding there is no established civil right to interstate travel giving rise to a criminal conviction. The court directed that Kelly and Baroni be re-sentenced on the remaining seven counts of the indictment. As a result, on April 24, 2019, Kelly was re-sentenced to 13 months.
Following her sentencing in April 2019, Kelly, in a statement, "Mr Christie, you are a bully and the days of you calling me a liar and destroying my life are over...The truth will be heard—and for the former governor, that truth will be unescapable, regardless of lucrative television deals or even future campaigns. I plan to make sure of that". On June 28, 2019—two weeks away from beginning her custodial sentence—the United States Supreme Court agreed to take up her case; her prison sentence was delayed pending its ruling. Political and legal commentators have noted this action by the Court as part of a continuingly "more stringent definition of the law" governing corruption cases involving political malfeasance.
Kelly's appeal was filed as Kelly v. United States, No. 18–1059. On 7 May, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, overturned Kelly's conviction, stating that as no attempt had been made to obtain money, goods or services her actions had not constituted fraud. In a written judgment, Justice Elena Kagan noted that "not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime", and that "the realignment of the toll lanes was an exercise of regulatory power—something this Court has already held fails to meet the statutes' property requirement". They also considered that the prosecution had chosen an unrealistically broad interpretation of wire fraud legislation. In response, Christie described his former team as having been "completely exonerated", and blamed prosecutors appointed by Barack Obama. While Kelly told Reuters that she believed "while this may finally have made this case right for me, it does not absolve those who should have truly been held accountable". The ruling has been described as being "the latest instance in which the Supreme Court hemmed in prosecutors in corruption cases involving political figures". The Financial Times has described the state of New Jersey as being "well versed in political corruption", but also that Bridgegate was a "particularly baroque" episode.
Kelly has said that she looks forward to returning to government work at some point in the future, saying "I'd like to make sure that my Wikipedia page is not all about Bridgegate".
- Kelly, Mike (January 9, 2014). "Mike Kelly: Image of former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly doesn't fit résumé". The Record (Bergen County). Archived from the original on January 13, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
Kelly grew up in Ramsey...she graduated from Immaculate Heart Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Washington Township
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'Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,' Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, e-mailed David Wildstein, ... who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge.
- Lach, Eric (January 8, 2014). "Meet the Christie Aide Behind the Instantly Infamous 'Traffic Problems' Email". Talking Point Memo. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
- http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/02/bridge_scandal_david_wildstein_uncensored_documents.html NJ.com
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- Complaint, docket entry 1, Jan. 9, 2014, Zachary Galicki, et al. v. State of New Jersey, Christopher James Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill Baroni, David Wildstein, et al., case no. 2:14-cv-00169-KM-MCA, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Newark Div.)
- Diduch, Mary. "Signs shoo media from Ramsey homes of ex-Christie aide, kin", The Record, January 16, 2014. Accessed January 17, 2014. "Across the borough at Kelly's light brown house, which also now has two "No trespassing" signs on the lawn, vehicles cannot park along Wyckoff Avenue, a main road where parking has always been banned."
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- Christopher Baxter, "NJ judge rules against bridge scandal panel in subpoena fight," April 9, 2014, Star-Ledger, reproduced by NJ.com, accessed August 27, 2014, at 
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- Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley and Tom Kludt (November 4, 2016), "Bridgegate case verdict: Former officials guilty on all counts", CNN, retrieved November 4, 2016
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- Mangan, Tucker Higgins,Dan (May 7, 2020). "Supreme Court reverses fraud convictions of Christie aides in NJ 'Bridgegate' scandal". CNBC.
- "Why the ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal Could Backfire on Prosecutors", by Nick Corasaniti, The New York Times, July 3, 2019. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- DeGregory, Priscilla (May 7, 2020). "Supreme Court throws out 'Bridgegate' convictions of Bridget Kelly, Bill Baroni".
- "US top court overturns 'Bridgegate' convictions". May 7, 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". www.ft.com.
- Liptak, Adam (May 7, 2020). "Supreme Court Unanimously Overturns 'Bridgegate' Convictions" – via NYTimes.com.
- "U.S. Supreme Court overturns N.J. 'Bridgegate' scandal convictions | Toronto Sun". May 7, 2020.
- Kelly, Mike. "Bridget Anne Kelly says she was scapegoated by Chris Christie in Bridgegate". North Jersey.
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