By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J., (CBS) — For more than four hours former Christie staffer Christina Renna testified Tuesday before a New Jersey legislative committee investigating the Fort Lee lane closures scandal in September 2013.
Renna worked for several years in the department of inter-governmental affairs and was under its director Bridget Kelly at the time of the week-long traffic snarl.
Kelly is accused of planning the lane closures with David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as part of an alleged political retribution scheme against the mayor of Fort Lee.
“I wouldn’t say she was the architect but she was instrumental,” said Renna who described Kelly as more likely to follow orders on big matters than to give them on her own initiative.
Renna says Kelly became furious when one of her staffers had communications with Mayor Mark Sokolich in the summer of 2013 but she didn’t know why. She says she later shielded the people she supervised when Mayor Sokolich called in the midst of the lane closures to complain about public safety concerns.
Renna wrote Kelly an email that Sokolich called saying he was upset to which Kelly replied “good.”
Renna says in mid December while state lawmakers were investigating the lane closures Kelly asked her to delete the email which was in her personal account. Renna says she did delete it but before that forwarded a copy to another personal account to “protect herself.”
“I thought the request could have been inappropriate and candidly I wasn’t comfortable with it,” Renna testified.
She says no one asked her about the email despite Governor Christie stating publicly in December he had his team looking into the Fort Lee matter. Renna finally came forward with the email after news broke January 8th of Kelly and Wildstein conspiring.
Renna says she didn’t suspect her boss of being involved up until then but looking back she regrets not coming forward with what she knew sooner. Renna resigned in February.
She says told lawmakers that staff in her department were clearly instructed not to mix political work with governmental work but was asked to explain examples of staff breaking those guidelines.