Federal subpoenas fly in Bridgegate
By: Elizabeth Titus
January 23, 2014 02:09 PM EST
The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey has subpoenaed Gov. Chris Christie’s reelection campaign and the state Republican party for documents related to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, a lawyer for the two groups confirmed Thursday.
The subpoenas indicate the growing seriousness of the controversy for Christie, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender who has seen his poll numbers sink as the lane closures and subsequent allegations of political retribution have gained public attention.
Both the campaign and the state party “intend to cooperate” with the U.S. attorney and a separate state legislative panel investigating what’s been dubbed “Bridgegate,” said lawyer Mark Sheridan of the high-powered firm Patton Boggs.
NJ.com first reported the issuing of the federal subpoenas. Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, said in an email that the office “can neither confirm nor deny specific investigative actions.”
The state legislative panel subpoenaed Christie’s campaign and his gubernatorial office for documents earlier this month. It also has sent subpoenas for documents to campaign manager Bill Stepien, fundraiser Nicole Davidman Drewniak and regional political director Matt Mowers, along with 15 other current or former officials in Christie’s office and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that controls the bridge.
The deadline for the federal subpoenas is Feb. 5, Sheridan said. The one issued to the campaign covers any communication that may have come from employees about the bridge issue, spanning campaign emails, personal emails and text messages, he added.
The deadline is two days after documents are due in the state legislative inquiry.
Christie has been reeling since revelations earlier this month that some of his aides were linked to the September closing of lanes on to the busy bridge in what Democrats allege was retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.
The mayor, a Democrat, did not endorse the governor for reelection, unlike many other Democrats in the state. The lane closures caused massive traffic jams for four days, delaying emergency service vehicles, children going to school and numerous commuters.
Christie has insisted he was not involved in any plot to close the lanes, and has fired or distanced himself from aides and appointees linked to the scandal.
But since those revelations, other Democrats in New Jersey have come forward to claim that Christie aides also placed undue pressure on them.
The mayor of Hoboken alleges the GOP governor’s administration said it would condition Hurricane Sandy relief funds for her community on whether she backed a development project. And the mayor of Jersey City alleges that Christie administration officials cancelled several meetings with his office after he said he would not endorse the governor for reelection.
The Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, has said the U.S. attorney’s office has been in contact with her over her claims.