Key Figures in Christie Bridge Scandal Still Won't Cooperate

Lawyers for former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien and fired aide Bridget Kelly said in letters to lawmakers that their clients would not cooperate

By Angela Delli Santi
|  Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014  |  Updated 5:50 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
A Port Authority police officer with ties to Govenor Christie is also being investigated in connection with the recent lane closure scandal at the George Washington Bridge. Brian Thompson reports from Fort Lee.

A Port Authority police officer with ties to Govenor Christie is also being investigated in connection with the recent lane closure scandal at the George Washington Bridge. Brian Thompson reports from Fort Lee.

advertisement

Two key figures in a political payback scandal ensnaring New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration reiterated Tuesday to legislative investigators that they will not turn over requested documents.

Lawyers for former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien and fired aide Bridget Kelly said in letters to lawmakers that their clients would not cooperate.

Legislators investigating the blocking of traffic lanes near the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge had given the pair until Tuesday to turn over documents after they both originally refused to do so.

Their request that the subpoenas be withdrawn was rejected by state lawmakers, and the new deadline set.

Photos and Videos

Christie Reiterates: No Role in Lane Closures

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday said that his office is cooperating with a subpoena from federal authorities investigating whether any laws were broken when lanes near a New Jersey bridge were apparently closed for political retribution. Brian Thompson reports.

Christie Knew of GWB Lane Closures, Ex-Ally's Lawyer Says

A lawyer for former Port Authority official David Wildstein said in a letter Friday that the order to close the lanes was "the Christie administration's order" and said he had evidence tying the governor to it. He did not elaborate. Chris Glorioso reports.
More Photos and Videos

Eighteen other people and organizations close to Christie have complied with similar subpoenas or have been granted extensions to produce documents on a rolling basis. The ongoing scandal threatens to upend any political aspirations for Christie, a Republican who's a possible 2016 presidential candidate.

The panel is seeking to find out from how high up the chain of command the order to block traffic near the bridge came and why the plot was orchestrated. Some believe it was to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, the town at the base of the bridge, perhaps for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid.

The U.S. attorney's office is conducting a parallel criminal investigation.

Federal officials also are investigating an allegation that the administration tied the receipt of a town's Sandy relief funds to its mayor's support for a redevelopment project favored by the governor.

The Christie administration has denied the charges.

Michael Critchely, a lawyer for Kelly, confirmed that his client is not providing documents because the subpoena is "constitutionally defective." He didn't elaborate, but lawyers for both Kelly and Stepien in the past have invoked their clients' rights not to self-incriminate, especially as federal prosecutors are looking into the case.

Related Stories

In a letter Tuesday sent by Stepien lawyer Kevin Marino and obtained by The Associated Press, he asks the panel to explain why it invalidated his subpoena objections, rejects the idea of a private review of documents and says his continuing objections apply to the entire subpoena.

"I can think of no lawful way the committee can obtain documents responsible to its subpoena from Mr. Stepien," Marino wrote. "His principled objections ... raise significant legal issues that are no less valid because they here arise in the context of a politically charged investigation."

Both Kelly and Stepien were trusted Christie aides before the scandal broke. Christie cut ties to Stepien — a day after naming him to lead the state Republican Party — for showing a lack of judgment after the traffic jams happened. Kelly was fired after the investigation erupted into a full-blown scandal last month with the release of messages that showed her saying it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" in an email weeks before the lane closings.

The eight Democrats and four Republicans in the Legislature who are investigating authorized their lawyer to take legal action to enforce the subpoenas if the pair did not comply.

But on Tuesday, it was Marino who raised the possibility of a court fight.

If the committee refuses to withdraw the subpoena, he suggested "seeking a judicial determination" on the validity of the objections.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
Bay Area Proud
Bay Area Proud is NBC Bay... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out