Bridgegate Committee Files Suit To Enforce Document Subpoenas
A New Jersey legislative committee filed court papers Wednesday to compel compliance with its subpoenas by two figures implicated in last September’s closure of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
The Legislative Select Committee on Investigation seeks declaratory judgments that Gov. Chris Christie’s former chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, are acting in violation of valid subpoenas. Both have invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The complaints and briefs, seeking injunctive relief, were filed in Mercer County Superior Court.
Assignment Judge Mary Jacobson on Thursday issued orders to show cause setting down arguments in the two matters for March 11. The lawyers for Kelly and Stepien have until March 3 to answer the committee’s complaints, and the committee in turn has until March 7 to respond to the answers.
“Today’s court filings are an unfortunate but necessary step to further the committee’s work,” said the committee cochairs, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen. “The committee remains confident in its legal position. We will now let the judicial process play out.”
Kelly’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, of Roseland’s Critchley, Kinum & Vazquez, says he has not had a chance to review the documents filed. “I look forward to discussing this in front of whatever judge it is assigned to,” he says.
Stepien’s lawyer, Kevin Marino, of Marino, Tortorelli & Boyle in Chatham, says, “We will review the filing and respond appropriately.
Christie fired Kelly in January after learning that she orchestrated the Sept. 9 through Sept. 13 lane closings with David Wildstein, the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, possibly because the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, declined to endorse Christie for reelection.
Christie demanded that Stepien withdraw his name from consideration for the job of state Republican Party chairman —and to give up a consultancy with the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chairs—in light of emails turned over to investigators by Wildstein, showing Stepien and Wildstein discussed the closures.
The complaints were filed by the committee’s special counsel, Reid Schar, of Jenner & Block in Chicago, and local counsel Leon Sokol and Anthony Bocchi, of Sokol, Behot & Fiorenzo in Hackensack.