NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Building the case that Gov. Chris Christie's vengeful office orchestrated four days of New Jersey gridlock in 2013, a witness testified Wednesday about blackballing one official who used a slur about the obese governor.
"Who does that fat fuck think he is?"
Testifying in a federal trial over a massive traffic jam New Jersey experienced in September 2013, Chris Stark said it was outbursts like that that the governor's office remembered for a list of local mayors and freeholders to be frozen out of communications.
Christie's now-defunct Office of Intergovernmental Affairs called it the "hands-off list," said Stark, one of the IGA's former regional directors.
In fall 2012, after Hurricane Sandy had wreaked devastation on the New Jersey shore, Stark said the IGA received a call from one angry elected official in Monmouth County.
Freeholder John Curley was unhappy that Christie was doing press conferences on the hurricane but none of the heavy lifting.
But Stark remembered that Christie returned the serve, calling Curley back with threats.
"Who the fuck do you think you are," Christie supposedly asked the freeholder. "I will fucking destroy you."
Stark said Christie vowed to begin robocalling Republicans in Curley's county to vote him out.
Before Christie would let Curley back into the fold, Stark said, Curley first had to stand behind Christie at an event.
Stark's testimony of political vengeance in Christie's office echoes the case against the governor's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Ann Kelly, and Bill Baroni, the governor's top appointee to the public agency that runs the George Washington Bridge.
Prosecutors say the pair engineered a four-day lane closure on the busy bridge in September 2013 to get back at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who had refused at the time to support Christie's re-election.
The Monmouth County freeholder who criticized Christie's actions after Hurricane Sandy said in a phone interview this afternoon that his upset words came at a tense time in 2012.
"I can't stand bullshit political speeches," said Curley, a Republican freeholder who began his third term this year.
"People get up and pontificate," but Curley said he was working for the people who put him in office.
"There was tremendous frustration that there wasn't enough being done," Curley added.
Curley remembered Christie as being upset about his words.
"I told him that I was not raised to get personal with people but that Monmouth County needed help," he said.
Stark apparently didn't get the quotation quite right.
"I think I called him a fat motherfucker," Curley said. "I was pretty explicit."
Curley said the outburst "was nothing I'd planned."
"I was frustrated to see people out of their homes," Curley said. "People were coming up to me, saying, 'My kids are hungry. Our home has just been totally destroyed.'
"I walked to his cabinet and said, 'Where is the fat fuck, running for president?'"
Curley said the hurricane damage was "like a nuclear war."
"That day, I'll never forget," he said.
Remembering homes split in half, and cars crashing into living rooms, Curley said he was part of a group getting food, "anything we could for these people."
By the end of that day, Curley said his khakis were soaked in what he thought was mud but more likely the contents of a broken sewer line.
"It's water over the dam at this point," Curley said of his heated exchange with Christie.
The freeholder denied that he went out of his way to kiss the governor's ring for forgiveness.
Though Christie ordered Curley to an event in Keansburg to apologize to him and his cabinet, Curley said he was "going there anyway."
The Monmouth County township was one that had also been devastated by the hurricane.
"I went up on the stage with the mayor, and the governor came up, and I apologized," he said.
Curley sees himself as something of a "Republicat," saying he makes his constituents a priority, and that "seems to rock the boat" with the party.
"I'm the kind of guy, I march to my own drummer," said Curley.
The testimony about Curley came this morning after attorneys concluded eight days of interrogating David Wildstein, the Christie appointee who has already pleaded guilty to his role in the lane closures.
After the court excuses Stark, prosecutors plan to call former Christie staffer Christina Renna as their next witness. Renna became infamous for texting during Christie's Dec. 13, 2013, press conference that the governor had "flat-out lied" about his senior staff not being involved in the lane closures.
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