SANDY FUNDS Under Scrutiny... Paid For Ads With Christie & Family... DOCS: Gov. Shut Out A Mayor After He Didn't Endorse... Fort Lee Mayor: Endorsement Talk DID Happen... Subpoenas Coming... Lawmaker: 'Abuse Of Power' Probe... Capo Complains: Constitutional Rights Violated... NEW BRIDGE THEORY: Billion Dollar Payback...
NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS CREATE SPECIAL INVESTIGATORY COMMITTEE INTO BRIDGEGATE
Amanda Terkel | 01/13/2014 | HuffPost
WASHINGTON -- The New Jersey state Assembly is stepping up its investigation into "Bridgegate," announcing Monday that it has created a special investigatory committee to focus on the issue.
The committee, which will have subpoena power and a special counsel, will be led by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), who also chairs the chamber's transportation committee. Wisniewski has been leading the effort to figure out why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) administration closed access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., in September.
"THE EVIDENCE THAT HAS COME OUT IN RECENT WEEKS MAKES CLEAR THAT THIS NOW GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND A TRANSPORTATION ISSUE AND GOES INTO THE HIGHEST RANKS OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH," WISNIEWSKI SAID IN A STATEMENT MONDAY. "A CONCERTED AND FOCUSED INVESTIGATION WITH INCREASED RESOURCES IS NOW NEEDED, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING TO UNCOVER ANSWERS FOR THE PEOPLE OF NEW JERSEY WITH THESE NEW TOOLS AT HAND. THIS INVESTIGATION WILL CONTINUE WITH INCREASED INTENSITY."
Last week, the state Assembly released documents related to the bridge scandal obtained in a subpoena of the records of former Port Authority official David Wildstein, a Christie appointee. The documents showed that Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Christie, was involved in coordinating the closures, despite the governor's earlier assertion that no one in his office was involved.
Until last week, members of the Christie administration -- and the governor himself -- claimed that two of the three bridge access lanes in Fort Lee were shut down as part of a traffic study. But the released emails and text messages indicate there was a pettier, political motive at play, and that the closures were possibly intended as retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie's reelection bid.
The New Jersey transportation committee also subpoenaed testimony from Wildstein, who ordered the closures. But last week, he invoked his Fifth Amendment and refused to testify.
Wisniewski has said impeachment might be a possibility if evidence shows Christie was directly involved in the lane closures, which lasted from Sept. 9 to 13, causing massive traffic jams and delaying emergency personnel.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
REPUBLICAN DONORS WORRY ABOUT CHRIS CHRISTIE'S 2016 PROSPECTS
THOMAS BEAUMONT | 02/11/2014 | AP
CHICAGO (AP) — Where just months ago Republicans brimmed with pride over Chris Christie's landslide re-election, doubts about his prospects as a potential presidential candidate have begun creeping into the minds of some donors in key states, according to some GOP fundraisers.
The celebrity New Jersey governor is in Chicago Tuesday to raise money for the Republican Governors Association that he chairs. While Christie gets credit for helping raise millions of dollars to help hold the GOP's edge in governorships this fall, what was supposed to be a re-election victory tour featuring him as a rising national leader has sparked a different conversation.
Ann Herberger, a national Republican fundraiser based in Florida, said Christie's robust persona and blunt style can pack a room. Some donors, however, have expressed reservations about his future because of the flap over the closure of two access lanes to the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and Manhattan for four days last September.
Emails from a top political adviser and between a top Christie aide and a Port Authority official he appointed cast the traffic-snarling lane closures as retaliation for a local mayor's decision not to endorse Christie's re-election. Christie fired the aide and his political adviser but has denied authorizing or knowing about the scheme until the emails became public last month.
"There are influential donors who are giving him a second and third look," Herberger said of Christie. "Where they would have been 'this is the guy' two months ago, I think a lot of people are giving him a second look and keeping their powder dry."
"But that could change, too," said Herberger. "There's so much time between now and the primaries."
Herberger is a longtime fundraiser for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another 2016 GOP presidential prospect. While her comments echoed those of some fundraisers in a handful of battleground states, far more Republican donors and officials are publicly withholding judgment on Christie until it's clear whether his adamant denial of involvement in the lane closures withstands scrutiny.
If it does, he survives as a 2016 prospect. If it doesn't, he's finished, his most vocal advocates agree. Christie has said he won't decide for another year whether to run for president.
"I'm just not seeing" donor apprehension, said Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors Association. "We're off to a historically strong start."
Christie's political future aside, the RGA has raised $15 million since December, when Christie became its chairman, said Gail Gitcho, the association's communication director. That includes $6 million in January, when internal state email about the traffic scandal was becoming public.
Still, there was no escaping the questions hanging over the 2016 presidential prospect Tuesday. In New Jersey, Christie representatives were scheduled to ask state officials if his political fundraisers can raise extra money to pay for the requirements of complying with subpoenas related to the allegations that the George Washington Bridge traffic snarl was politically motivated.
Christie planned to attend a private Tuesday morning fundraiser for Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin. He also scheduled an hourlong public appearance Tuesday before roughly 1,600 Chicago business elites and a full contingent of national press at the Economic Club of Chicago.
He planned to take prepared questions in a session moderated by Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown — his first public appearance since his two-hour news conference Jan. 9 on the traffic scandal. Private meetings in the afternoon with high-dollar donors were to be capped with a dinner at the home of billionaire couple Ken and Anne Griffin.
Democrats, meanwhile, have been busily trying to fan the flames of Christie's problems. They have dispatched former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to hold a press conference Tuesday in Chicago and were quick to point out that Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and GOP Gov. Rick Perry were absent from Christie's events in the state last week. Christie got commitments of $1.5 million from donors in Texas, said Gitcho.
Christie remains a popular figure in segments of the national Republican donor base and among other GOP governors.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Christie in Florida last week and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is welcoming his help. Both face tough fights this year for re-election. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, viewed as a safe bet for re-election for now, also is standing by him.
"I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt, just like anyone else. Innocent until proven guilty," Branstad said last week.
John Rood, a top Florida GOP fundraiser, also defended Christie, saying hardball politics is a valued trait.
"You want a president who is strong, who will stand up to world leaders. Does that make him a bully? I don't know," said Rood. "There's a fine line in that range of personality."
Sentiment: Strong Buy
THEY CAN'T HELP LOVING A MAN WHO SLAPS LIBERALS AROUND
I knew about Christie's little "deal" described here some time ago, but apparently it's just now coming to the attention of the Washington press:
As the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Chris Christie struck an unusual deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb.
In exchange for not charging the drug-making giant with securities fraud, Christie’s office would require it to fund a professorship at Seton Hall University’s law school — Christie’s alma mater.
The $5 million gift, one component of a larger agreement between the company and prosecutors, was hailed by the South Orange, N.J., school as a cornerstone of its new center on business ethics.
But in Washington, Christie’s superiors in the George W. Bush administration were uneasy about it, worried it could look to the public like a U.S. attorney using his authority to benefit a pet cause.
Christie said the idea was not his, but part of a back-and-forth negotiation between his prosecutors and the firm. In any case, spurred on by the Seton Hall deal and several other out-of-court settlements negotiated by Christie’s office, Justice Department officials ultimately enacted new rules placing limits on prosecutors’ discretion in reaching such agreements.
“It was something you wanted to tamp out before every U.S. attorney in America built a new summer camp,” said one former Justice official involved in reviewing new rules who, like two other senior officials, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations. “It needed to be nipped in the bud.”
Obviously, I did not know that the Bush administration had a problem with this. After all, Christie wasn't a highly qualified career US Attorney but rather one of the GOP political cronies they appointed because he was a big fundraiser. I assumed they approved of his conduct. This just indicates how corrupt Christie has always been --- so corrupt that Bush's thoroughly corrupt DOJ had to rein him in. (I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that his is the sort of thing Romney's vetting team had on Christie.)
My big question is how in the hell the political press allowed this story to go untold when they were kissing Christie's ring for the past couple of years? And did the GOP poohbahs and Big Money donors not think to look into Christie a little bit more closely than his appealing (to them) habit of publicly browbeating schoolteachers to see that he had major problems in his past and some serious character flaws that would be disqualifying?
I think it really was another case of the political establishment, including the press, just falling in love with a man they saw as someone who would beat the #$%$ out liberals, which is what they consider to be the essence of leadership. They all would have been so much happier as subjects of an imperial dictator or brutal monarchy.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
ANALYSIS FINDS 'MULTIPLE IRREGULARITIES' IN DISTRIBUTION OF NJ SANDY AID
HUNTER WALKER | FEBRUARY 3, 2014 | TPM
An analysis published Monday in the wake of allegations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) found "multiple irregularities" in Hurricane Sandy relief funds handed out by the sate.
The analysis by WNYC, NJ Spotlight, and New Jersey Public Radio came after Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer said members of Christie's administration had threatened to withhold Sandy funds from her city unless she approved a real estate project.
The analysis found Hoboken received less storm relief than smaller cities that had less damage, a finding NJ Spotlight's Scott Gurian noted "could lend credence to Zimmer’s claim."
The report specifically analyzed the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Energy Allocation Initiative, which is at the center of Zimmer's allegations. It found Hoboken had received $142,080 from the program. That's less, for instance, than the city of Nutley, which got $556,000 and was described by Gurian as having been "relatively unscathed" by the storm.
Christie administration officials have denied political factors played a role in the distribution of Sandy aid and pointed to approximately $70 million Hoboken and its residents received after the storm. However, the new analysis noted that money largely "came directly from the federal government" and "was aimed at individuals and business owners rather than at Hoboken’s city government."
In spite of these findings, Gurian said the analysis found nothing that conclusively confirms Zimmer's accusation.
"There is no proof at this point that politics necessarily played a role in state decisions about who got help and who did not in the aftermath of Sandy," he wrote.
An official from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection responded to questions about the analysis from NJ Spotlight. According to Gurian, the official insisted aid applications were reviewed through a proper, objective process. The official also noted the process was ongoing and some of the aid might still be adjusted.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Elk, do you live in New Jersey? This fiasco Christie's in is troubling, but there's been many politicians over the years that have pulled far worse shenanigans than this and got away with it(Hint: GW lying us into the Iraq war, Clinton doing a girl in the WH, a girl close to his daughters age.). Anyway, I still believe Christie is one of the bright hopes for the GOP to get back to normalcy, so it's all sort of sad in away.
The Clinton 'CigarGate' show was just a distraction from the Clinton involvement in fraudulent land deals (He pardoned Mark Rich before leaving office, it's good to be a friend of the king), and the fact that he ordered the cruise-missilie destruction of the two principle, non-western-owned pharmaceutical factories in Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism.
I'd bet that is pretty terrifying, watching cruise missiles fly overhead, and then see the factory your parents work at explode.
Clinton: "Hmm, these things look bad. I've got it! everybody likes a good sex scandal, makes them forget that anything else has been going on. I'll play dumb and pretend that; assisting a girl with her masturbation efforts, while flavoring my cigar in the process, is not actually 'sex'. It should consume 2 years of my presidency, funnel tens of millions of dollars of public money to lawyers, and everyone will forget about the real criminal acts we've been committing. It's a win-win baby, yeah, someone get that Monica girl up here NOW! I've got some work, he he, to do!"
CHRIS CHRISTIE SHOULD RESIGN IF BOMBSHELL PROVES TRUE: EDITORIAL
Star-Ledger Editorial Board By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
on January 31, 2014
Forget about the White House in 2016. The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor.
David Wildstein, the man who ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures, is now pointing the finger directly at Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor knew about the lane closures in September when they occurred.
That directly contradicts Christie account at his Jan. 13 press conference when he made this statement: "I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it... I first found out about it after it was over."
If this charge proves true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because
that would leave him so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to stop the bleeding and quit. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.
By the governor's own standard, lying is a firing offense. Here's what he said about his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelley, at the same press conference: "There's no justification for ever lying to a governor or a person in authority in this government. As a result, I've terminated Bridget's employment."
One hopes that he would consider lying to the people of New Jersey as an offense of equal magnitude.
So for now, set aside the other scandals. Forget about the charge of extortion in Hoboken. Forget about the growing evidence showing that Christie used Sandy aid as a political slush fund, leaving the real victims short.
The lane closures in Fort Lee not only caused people to miss meetings, and lose out on business deals. It delayed ambulance responses in Fort Lee, and so put people's lives at risk. It was an abuse of government authority that was almost too reckless to believe at first. If the governor did know about it as it occurred, he should have put a stop to it.
The order to close those lanes came from Wildstein, and was triggered by an email from Kelly. That much is not in dispute. And that alone is damning evidence that Christie's administration is dangerously out of control. But if the governor himself was involved, this moves to a new level.
Is Wildstein telling the truth? He faces a criminal investigation himself, so he has a powerful incentive to give prosecutors damning information they can use against a bigger fish. That would give him leverage to negotiate a plea deal. So it is too early to know.
But Wildstein says he has documents that prove the governor was lying at his famous two-hour press conference, when Christie blamed the event on the "stupid" actions of his own staff. And certainly, Wildstein was in a position to know the roots of this conspiracy. A Christie acquaintance since high school, he was appointed to a senior position at the Port Authority, despite having no expertise in transit issues. He was the governor's eyes and ears at the authority.
As the scandal has emerged and grown, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie has repeatedly denied any connection between his office and the decision by two aides he appointed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close two local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in early September 2013. A compilation of his statements throughout the month of December 2013. (Video by compilation by Brian Donohue/The-Star-Ledger)
The governor's office put a statement Friday evening saying that Christie had no "prior knowledge" of the lane closures. But Wildstein's has not made that charge. His claim is that Christie knew of the lane closure while they were underway. The governor's statement is an evasion.
Wildstein's staement means that others who have been implicated in this scandal will probably come forward now as well, hoping to strike deals with prosecutors before their testimony becomes redundant. And all this will happen as the administration answers dozens of subpoenas, and grapples with both criminal and legislative investigations.
When you layer on top of this the criminal investigation in Hoboken, and a separate investigation of Sandy spending by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, it becomes difficult to see how Christie can function. It should be clear even to him now that he should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.
This is a shocking development. Christie is now damaged goods. If Wildstein's disclosures are as powerful as he claims, the governor must go.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
CHRISTIE LINKED TO KNOWLEDGE OF SHUT LANES
KATE ZERNIKE | JAN. 31 | 2014 | The New York Times
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” that the governor knew about the closings when they were happening.
A lawyer for the former official, David Wildstein, wrote a letter describing the move to shut the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.
video Video: Christie News Conference on Bridge FlapJAN. 9, 2014
During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”
The letter, which was sent as part of a dispute over Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees, does not specify what the evidence is. Nonetheless, it marks a striking break with a previous ally. Mr. Wildstein was a high school classmate of Mr. Christie’s who was hired with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.
Mr. Christie’s office responded late in the day with a statement that backed away somewhat from the governor’s previous assertions that he had not known about the closings in September, which appeared to have been carried out as political reliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, until they were reported in the news media. Instead, it focused on what the letter did not suggest — that Mr. Christie knew of the closings before they occurred.
“Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along: He had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein’s motivations were for closing them to begin with,” the statement said. “As the governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and, as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th.
“The governor denies Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer’s other assertions.”
Mr. Christie, a Republican in his second term, made a brief appearance on Friday night at Howard Stern’s 60th birthday party in Manhattan and introduced Jon Bon Jovi; the governor did not respond to reporters who shouted questions as he left. He has repeatedly said that he did not know about the lane closings until they were first reported by The Record, a North Jersey newspaper, on Sept. 13, the day a senior Port Authority official ordered the lanes reopened.
The letter was sent from Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer, Alan L. Zegas, to the Port Authority’s general counsel. It contested the agency’s decision not to pay Mr. Wildstein’s legal fees related to investigations into the lane closings by the United States attorney’s office and the State Legislature. The allegations about Mr. Christie make up just one long paragraph in a two-page letter that otherwise focuses on Mr. Wildstein’s demand that his legal fees be paid and that he be indemnified from any lawsuits.
But Mr. Wildstein, a former political strategist and onetime author of a popular but anonymous political blog, seemed to be making an aggressive move against the governor at what should have been a celebratory moment for Mr. Christie, who had anticipated the playing of the Super Bowl in New Jersey this weekend.
The Legislature has sent subpoenas to Mr. Wildstein and 17 other people as well as the governor’s campaign and administration seeking information about the lane closings. That information is due back on Monday.
The scandal broke on Jan. 8, when documents turned over by Mr. Wildstein in response to a previous subpoena from the Legislature revealed that a deputy chief of staff to the governor, Bridget Anne Kelly, had sent an email to Mr. Wildstein in August saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the town at the New Jersey end of the bridge and where Mr. Christie’s aides had pursued but failed to receive an endorsement from the mayor.
“Got it,” Mr. Wildstein replied.
He then communicated the order to bridge operators. The closings caused extensive gridlock in Fort Lee. Mr. Christie fired Ms. Kelly the day after those emails were revealed, and his administration has tried to portray the closings as the actions of a rogue staff member.
But the documents from Mr. Wildstein were heavily redacted, leaving clues but no answers as to who else might have been involved. The documents included, for example, texts between Mr. Wildstein and Ms. Kelly trying to set up a meeting with the governor around the time the plan for the lane closings was hatched. It is unclear, however, what the meeting was about.
Mr. Wildstein’s lawyer has promised to turn over full versions of those emails to the committee investigating the matter, but as of Friday evening, a spokesman for the committee said they had not been received.
Mr. Zegas did not respond to requests to discuss the letter.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
FOR CHRISTIE, POLITICS TEAM KEPT A FOCUS ON TWO RACES
By KATE ZERNIKE + DAVID W. CHEN | NY Times | JAN. 29, 2014
His campaign called them “the Top 100,” the swing towns that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey wanted to win as he prepared for a re-election campaign. Capturing these towns, sometimes referred to as mini-Ohios or mini-Floridas, would validate the governor’s argument that he would be the most broadly appealing Republican choice for president in 2016.
Staff members in the governor’s office created tabbed and color-coded dossiers on the mayors of each town — who their friends and enemies were, the policies and projects that were dear to them — that were bound in notebooks for the governor to review in his S.U.V. between events.
Long after most of the State House had been shuttered for the night, Mr. Christie’s aides worked on spreadsheets, documenting calls and meetings with key players in the towns — one Republican called it “political Moneyball” — as the governor tried to win endorsements and friends.
Officially known as “intergovernmental affairs,” the operation was a key element of the permanent campaign that allowed Mr. Christie to win twice in a largely Democratic state. It was led by Bill Stepien, his two-time campaign manager and deputy chief of staff, and then by Bridget Anne Kelly, who succeeded him in his role in the governor’s office.
They were part of what one high-ranking Republican called “the crew” around Mr. Christie: friends who strategized at Mr. Christie’s kitchen table in Mendham and socialized with him in the governor’s box at MetLife Stadium.
Now this operation is at the heart of the growing scandal over the closing of lanes at the George Washington Bridge in an act of political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.
Mr. Christie has said that he had not been aware of his office’s involvement in the maneuver, and nothing has directly tied to him to it. But a close look at his operation and how intimately he was involved in it, described in interviews with dozens of people — Republican and Democrat, including current and former Christie administration officials, elected leaders and legislative aides — gives credence to the puzzlement expressed by some Republicans and many Democrats in the state, who question how a detail-obsessed governor could have been unaware of the closings or the effort over months to cover up the political motive.
The political operation was based in an inner sanctum office, occupied by Bill Stepien and then Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs, who was fired for her role in the Fort Lee lane shutdown.
Gov. Chris Christie’s chief of staff and top deputy chiefs occupy offices in the governor’s suite on the first floor of the New Jersey State House. Lower-ranking staff members are scattered in other locations.
Mr. Christie fired Ms. Kelly after it was revealed that she sent an email calling for “some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” He cut ties with Mr. Stepien, whom he had recruited to run the state’s Republican Party and work for Mr. Christie in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. With a legislative committee and the United States attorney’s office looking into the lane closings, nearly every one of Mr. Christie’s most trusted staff members, along with his re-election campaign, is under subpoena.
“With any governor, but especially with Chris Christie, it’s impossible to separate politics from policy, but clearly Stepien was politics first, policy second,” said David Pringle, the campaign director for New Jersey Environmental Federation, who served on the transition team after the organization endorsed Mr. Christie in 2009 but backed his Democratic opponent last year. The group has since accused Mr. Christie of abandoning his principles on the environment.
“There wasn’t anything of significance that Stepien did without the governor being aware of it,” Mr. Pringle said.
Mr. Christie relied on two kinds of loyalists to run his office. There were his trusted aides from his days as United States attorney: Kevin O’Dowd, his chief of staff and nominee for attorney general; Jeffrey S. Chiesa, who was his chief counsel and attorney general; Charles B. McKenna, until recently his chief counsel; Michele Brown, whom he put in charge of appointments and then economic development; and Michael Drewniak, his chief spokesman.
Then there were the political people, primarily acolytes of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and former Representative Robert D. Franks, who died in 2010: Mr. Stepien, who led the office of intergovernmental and legislative affairs, and became a deputy chief of staff; Ms. Kelly, who succeeded Mr. Stepien in those roles when he left to run the re-election campaign; and Maria Comella, Mr. Christie’s communications director.
In general, the aides from Mr. Christie’s tenure as United States attorney tended to policy and the day-to-day functions of the governor’s office, while the others oversaw his political strategy.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
FEDS INTENSIFY CHRISTIE HUNT
Plummets In The Polls... Witnesses Emerge...U.S. Attorney Subpoenas Chris Christie Campaign Documents
Amanda Terkel | HuffPost | 01/23/2014
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey has subpoenaed documents from the reelection campaign of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, as part of its investigation into the "Bridgegate" scandal.
In a statement issued Thursday, MARK SHERIDAN, A PARTNER WITH PATTON BOGGS, SAID HIS LAW FIRM HAD BEEN RETAINED TO REPRESENT BOTH THE CAMPAIGN AND THE COMMITTEE IN CONNECTION WITH THE INVESTIGATION.
"WE CAN CONFIRM THAT THE CHRISTIE FOR GOVERNOR RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE NEW JERSEY REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE RECEIVED SUBPOENAS FOR DOCUMENTS FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, IN ADDITION TO THE SUBPOENA THE CAMPAIGN PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED FROM THE STATE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE," SAID SHERIDAN. "All three subpoenas focus on the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. The campaign and the state party intend to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's office and the state legislative committee and will respond to the subpoenas accordingly."
The Christie administration closed down two of the three George Washington Bridge access lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., in September, in what appeared to be a political retribution scheme aimed at the borough's Democratic mayor. The closures, which lasted for four days, caused massive traffic jams. They were orchestrated by a Christie ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Wildstein, along with one of Christie's deputy chiefs of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his then-campaign manager and top political adviser, Bill Stepien.
Christie has maintained that he had no involvement in, or knowledge of, the plan.
The New Jersey state legislature is also investigating the lane closures. The FBI and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, meanwhile, are looking into separate controversies over whether the Christie administration misused Hurricane Sandy relief dollars.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
HOBOKEN MAYOR IS SAID TO HAVE TOLD OF THREAT
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUMJAN | NY Times | Jan 23, 2014
Federal authorities in New Jersey have interviewed SEVERAL WITNESSES WHO SAID THE MAYOR OF HOBOKEN TOLD THEM IN MAY ABOUT A STATE OFFICIAL’S THREAT TO WITHHOLD HURRICANE RECOVERY FUNDS IF THE MAYOR DID NOT SUPPORT A DEVELOPMENT PROJECT FAVORED BY THE GOVERNOR, PEOPLE BRIEFED ON THE MATTER SAID ON WEDNESDAY.
THE STATEMENTS BY THE WITNESSES, TWO OF WHOM ARE AIDES TO THE MAYOR, DAWN ZIMMER, SUPPORT THE ACCOUNT SHE GAVE TO FEDERAL PROSECUTORS ON SUNDAY, AND THE INTERVIEWS SUGGEST THAT PROSECUTORS AND THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION HAVE MOVED SWIFTLY TO INVESTIGATE HER ACCUSATIONS.
THE AIDES SAID SHE HAD TOLD THEM ABOUT THE THREAT BY LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO, SHORTLY AFTER IT OCCURRED, ACCORDING TO TWO PEOPLE BRIEFED ON THE MATTER.
In New Jersey, Claims Elevate Mayor’s ProfileJAN. 22, 2014
A Hoboken city councilman, David Mello, said in an interview that Ms. Zimmer had also told him about the threat by Ms. Guadagno, a Republican. Mr. Mello, a Democrat, said he had been upset to hear about what he called “this quid pro quo ultimatum by the lieutenant governor.”
The allegation first surfaced on Saturday when Ms. Zimmer, in an interview on MSNBC, said that the threat was made by Ms. Guadagno in a parking lot in May. Ms. Zimmer said Ms. Guadagno told her that federal Hurricane Sandy recovery funds and money for fortifying her city against another storm would depend on her support for the development project. The mayor said Ms. Guadagno said that Gov. Chris Christie had sent her to deliver that message because the project was so important to him.
Late on Sunday, Ms. Zimmer said in a statement that she had been interviewed about her accusations earlier in the day by prosecutors in the office of the New Jersey United States attorney, Paul J. Fishman, and provided them with documents, including a diary in which she had memorialized her encounter with Ms. Guadagno.
Mr. Fishman’s office was already conducting a preliminary review of allegations that several of Mr. Christie’s aides and appointees, including his deputy chief of staff, had ordered the closing of two approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge in what was apparently an act of political retribution. A spokeswoman for Mr. Fishman’s office, Rebekah Carmichael, would neither confirm nor deny that Ms. Zimmer had been interviewed and declined to comment on her assertions.
On Monday, Ms. Guadagno disputed Ms. Zimmer’s account of their meeting, and denied she had made any threat in connection with the large commercial development project, which was to be on property owned by the Rockefeller Group, which is represented by the law firm of one of Mr. Christie’s closest associates, David Samson.
“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined,” Ms. Guadagno said at an event to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. “Any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.”
Ms. Zimmer’s spokesman, Juan Melli, would not discuss whether her aides had been interviewed, saying, “The U.S. attorney’s office has asked that we not conduct additional media interviews and we are respecting their request.”
Sentiment: Strong Buy