WCBS 880: NJ Taxpayers Foot $725K Bill For ‘Bridgegate’ Lawyers
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal has billed its lawyers more than $725,000 to date, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
Much of the taxpayer money was spent on an unsuccessful attempt to get Gov. Chris Christie‘s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and ex-campaign manager, Bill Stepien, to turn over documents related to the September lane closures in Fort Lee.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Westfield, who has been critical of what he calls the partisan nature of the committee, said the lawmakers on the panel should step aside and allow the U.S. attorney in New Jersey to complete his investigation.
“Don’t spend a million dollars in taxpayer money when maybe you have a parallel investigation going on at the same time spending the same type of money,” Bramnick told Diamond.
Taxpayers are also picking up the tab for Christie’s lawyers, who charged $650 an hour to compile a report clearing the governor of any wrongdoing, as well as the legal fees for current or former state employees who have been or could be subpoenaed by the legislative committee or the U.S. attorney’s office.
The lane closures, which caused traffic jams for four days in Fort Lee, appear to have been political retribution targeted at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who did not endorse Christie in his re-election bid.
The legislative committee is trying to determine how far up the chain of command the plot went. Christie has denied having any knowledge of the plan to close the lanes beforehand.
The panel subpoeaned documents from Kelly and Stepien, but a judge ruled last month they do not have to comply after they asserted their Fifth Amendment rights. Christie fired both.
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