NEW JERSEY (WCBS 880) — Bridget Anne Kelly, a former top aide to ex-Gov. Chris Christie and the central figure in the 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal to shut down toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge, is now a Republican candidate running for Bergen County clerk.
Kelly spent two decades in public service, but is best known for sending the infamous email "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" in what prosecutors alleged was a plot to create gridlock as political payback against the town's Democratic mayor who had declined to endorse Christie.
Asked why should people trust her Kelly said, "Because they should trust the truth and get to know the person, not the article they read."
Kelly, who claimed the bridge lanes were shut for a traffic study, was found guilty at trial, along with former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni, but the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the conviction. The court found there was no doubt "deception, corruption and abuse of power, but that does not constitute a crime."
She said it's time to move on.
"It made up and it's consumed most of the past seven years, sure, of New Jersey politics, but I don't think it should be a campaign issue," Kelly said. "I was in public service for 20 years, and I had the respect and reputation to allow me to be there for 20 years."
John Hogan, the Democratic incumbent, disagrees.
"Even though the Supreme Court may have cleared from any criminal actions, there was certainly an ethical problem," Hogan said, adding that he believes Kelly deserves a second chance, but not in public service. "Everyone deserves a second chance, but you get one shot at public service. If you mess it up, if you lose the public trust, you shouldn't get another shot."
Hogan believes the notorious email is a disqualifer.
"Absolutely it's a campaign issue. That's why it's a five-year term. You have to remain nonpartisan cause you run a significant portion of the election process. She's already proven that she can't be nonpartisan," Hogan said.
Baroni served some prison time but was released on bail when the court agreed to hear the case.
Christie has always maintained his innocence and was never charged.
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