An aide to Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that she did not alert any of her bosses when she learned about the closure of lanes leading up to the George Washington Bridge in part because she believed someone else was trying to get to the bottom of it.
Regina Egea testified before a legislative panel that is investigating the closures, which appear to have been carried out for political retribution and have become a major distraction for Christie, a possible 2016 presidential contender.
She was forwarded an email last September from Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, ordering that the lanes be reopened and suggesting that their closure may have broken the law.
Egea said the authority’s deputy director, Christie appointee Bill Baroni, called her, explained the situation and then forwarded the email from Foye.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a co-chairman of the committee, asked her if she thought closing lanes was something the Port Authority might be involved with. She said it was.
“That they would do traffic studies, absolutely, and that they would look for ways to enhance the customer experience,” said Egea, who said she normally would not get involved with what she called operational issues at the independent and semi-independent authorities she oversees such as the Port Authority, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and New Jersey Transit.
She said she understood the accusations from Foye, an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as part of a dispute between the two states’ contingents, something that was common.
Egea is the fifth member of Christie’s administration to testify before the legislative panel, but she may be the last for a while.
She was one of 13 people on a list of potential witnesses the committee compiled last month. Wisniewski said the U.S. attorney’s office, which is also probing what happened, advised the lawmakers’ lawyer to wait on calling about half the list.
Before Thursday’s hearing, GOP lawmakers reiterated their concerns that the legislative probe is focused on politics.
“It appears that the U.S. attorney is trying to turn off the John Wisniewski show,” Republican Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick said. “But John Wisniewski doesn’t want to turn off the lights.”