CHERRY HILL – How ironic it seems in retrospect: Chris Christie’s White House aspirations up in smoke because of a harebrained scheme to bolster his prospects. Enter, Bridgegate, (aka Christie Administration’s use of transportation infrastructure as a weapon against whoever didn’t kiss the Gov.’s ring.)
Bridgegate gave us much drama and more than a few casualties, including the Gov. himself. But at least Chris Christie has us hapless taxpayers to cover his legal costs. Not all Bridgegate casualties were so lucky, namely Christie’s ex deputy chief-of-staff, Bridget Kelly, unceremoniously thrown under the bus when the poo hit the fan. To hear the Gov talk, Bridgegate was Bridget Kelly’s fault. And now she faces mounting legal bills fighting off Christie’s smear campaign. Unfortunately for Bridget Kelly, her reputation’s in the toilet and she can’t get a job. So like any enterprising American, she set up an online widget to pay her lawyer. With your contributions.
My initial reaction: a judgmental snicker. Then I made a donation. SO should you. Here’s why:
5. IT’S NEW JERSEY BABY! As Senator Bob Menendez proves, ethically speaking, there’s no bar too low to justify a legal defense fund in New Jersey. If it’s good enough for Menendez, it’s good enough for someone carrying out the will on her boss.
4. WOMEN ALWAYS TAKE THE FALL I won’t portray Bridget Kelly as some feminist icon, but let’s be real: her treatment by the Governor reeks of misogyny. In that $1,000,000 taxpayer-funded report Chris Christie commissioned (ostensibly to self-exonerate) the Gov blamed Bridgegate on Kelly, his “emotional” and “erratic” former deputy chief-of-staff. Emotional, it was suggested, for being dumped by Bill Stepien, Christie’s two-time campaign manager. Stepien and Kelly were promptly booted from Team Christie when Bridgegate came to light.
For his part, Stepien was promptly hired by a political action committee, “because of his political astuteness, his ability to analyze races and his ability to win campaigns,” his new boss said at the time. Thanks to Christie’s public, professional lynching of Bridget Kelly (with comments like ‘events in her personal life may have had some bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind’) Bridget Kelly remains, it would appear, unemployable.
Coincidentally, Chris Christie also has a daughter named Bridget. Here’s hoping when she reaches Bridget Kelly’s age, this brand of sexist scapegoating will be a relic.
3. SHE HAS FOUR CHILDREN By letting Bridget Kelly twist in the wind on his behalf, Chris Christie deprived her of the means to support herself (and her four children.) It’s one thing to be ruthless to people your own size, but by destroying a subordinate in this manner, Chris Christie profoundly impacted Bridget Kelly’s four kids as well. So what’s an unemployable single mom with four kids and mounting legal bills to do? She swallowed her pride and embraced a thoroughly modern solution: an online legal defense fund.
2. YOU OWE HER Admit it, regardless of political persuasion, you’ve enjoyed the salacious, operatic quality of the Bridgegate saga. It has certainly been riveting theater. If you’re a democrat who feasted on this story, you owe her. If you’re a journalist whose job got a whole lot juicer with this scandal, you owe her. And most especially, if your name is Scott Walker or Jeb Bush you most definitely owe her. Good theater isn’t cheap and pitching in keeps the show going.
And the #1 reason to donate to Bridget Kelly’s legal defense fund….
1. TO SCREW CHRIS CHRISTIE! Maybe you’re a liberal with an ax to grind. Maybe you’re a NJ conservative grown cold in Chris Christie’s shadow. Maybe you’re a Rand Paul supporter eager to sink Christie’s presidential hopes for good. Or maybe you’re just a regular New Jersey resident whose property taxes never went down like Chris Chris Christie promised they would. Either way, donating to Bridget Kelly’s legal defense fund lets you take a small measure of sweet revenge.
And that’s gotta count for something.
Jay Lassiter is the self-proclaimed president of the Bridget Kelly Gay Fan Club. He’s often in Trenton agitating for things we’ll all embrace in a decade. He currently co-chairs the Progressive Caucus of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee. Find him on Twitter @Jay_Lass.