Former Christie staffer discusses ‘hands off mayors’

TRENTON – A former Gov. Chris Christie staffer testified she was directed by former top administration aide Bridget Kelly which mayors in New Jersey she shouldn’t “proactively” reach out to.

Christina Renna, who used to work under Kelly in the administration’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, told a joint legislative committee the office was directed to steer away from communicating with certain New Jersey mayors. IGA acted as a go-between for municipal leaders and the Christie administration.

“Sometimes she would communicate that there was a problem [with a mayor],” said Renna, explaining IGA then wouldn’t proactively contact the mayor in question.

However, Renna told lawmakers the office never received “mandatory directives” not to contact mayors referred to in one message exchange with Christie staffers as “hands off mayors.”

Renna also took issue with the term “hands off mayors,” saying instead she preferred to characterize them as mayors the IGA was not conducting “proactive outreach with.”

The conversation came after Renna told the committee Kelly, who sent the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee email,” was “angered” that people with IGA reached out to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

“She was clearly angered about that, but I didn’t know why,” Renna said. “I advised staff to wait and see and figure out what the problem was.”

There was never a follow-up conversation to discern what the issue was with Fort Lee’s mayor, Renna said.

“I said, ‘Let’s just hang tight,’” she said.

Former Christie staffer discusses ‘hands off mayors’