By VICTOR E. SASSON
If I didn't know better, I'd think reporters and columnists at The Record are taking sides in the trial of Governor Christie's ex-aides in the Bridgegate scandal.
Today's lead story by Dustin Racioppi reports the Intergovernmental Affairs department (IGA) "did not become politicized until" right-hand man Bill Stepien left "and turned over duties to Bridget Anne Kelly" (A-1).
Kelly is on trial in Newark federal court, accused of working with Port Authority officials to block access to the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, who refused to back the GOP bully's reelection in 2013.
That clashes with her testimony, including her claim that her email to David Wildstein, Christie's Port Authority crony -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- wasn't an "order."
Until today, Bridget Kelly enjoyed several days of being portrayed in flattering terms by Columnist Mike Kelly, who profiled her and then wrote a long piece commenting on her Friday testimony, which he called "her side of the story."
But Racioppi quotes a former head of the state Ethics Commission suggesting an investigation into whether the IGA under Bridget Kelly "conducted political activity during state time, using state resources, using state employees to do it" (A-6).
It's also troubling that Racioppi refers several times to an "investigation" commissioned by Christie that eventually cost taxpayers more than $10 million -- the lead lawyer, Randy Mastro, was charging $650 an hour.
That report was widely viewed as a whitewash of the governor's role in the George Washington Bridge scandal -- confirmed by Kelly and other witnesses who said the governor knew of the lane closures in Fort Lee as they occurred.
As an example of how today's piece amounts to major push-back by Christie, Racioppi quotes Mastro's report as claiming IGA "functioned very effectively during the first three years of the governor's first term, both in terms of responsiveness and non-partisanship" (A-6).
"But, then, during the governor's reelection year, under [Bridget] Kelly's stewardship, there was aberrational behavior at Kelly's direction," Mastro claimed.