Chris Christie (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Chris Christie's bad news update: More subpoenas and bad headlines

Two top aides get called in -- and an exorbitant price tag for his taxpayer-funded self-exonerating study gets out


Jim Newell
May 8, 2014 7:01PM (UTC)

The New Jersey legislative committee investigating the Chris Christie Bridgegate scandal has broadened its inquiry by subpoenaing two more of Christie's top aides.

The committee announced that it is demanding Christie's top political strategist Mike DuHaime "turn over any communications related to the September closure of lanes" clogging traffic on the George Washington Bridge, Capital reports.

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The committee, which issued the subpoena on Monday, also wants any text messages or emails DuHaime has exchanged regarding Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat allegedly targeted for retribution by the Christie aides who engineered the traffic jam in his city.

"The subpoena is part of the committee's continued, bipartisan investigation into the lane closings and apparent abuse of government power,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, two Democrats who chair the panel, said in a joint statement. “The committee will follow the facts to get the truth so that the people of New Jersey get the answers they deserve.”

The Select Committee on Investigation also announced Wednesday that it is subpoenaing Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. "As the scandal surrounding the closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge heated up late last year," Capital writes, "Drewniak communicated frequently with David Wildstein, the Port Authority's since-resigned director of interstate capital projects and one of the engineers of Bridgegate."

In other Bridgegate news, estimated cost of the internal inquiry commissioned by Gov. Christie that, ever so coincidentally, absolved him personally of any wrongdoing, continues to spike. The law firm that conducted the investigation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, had already billed state taxpayers $1.1 million in its "first batch of bills." Alas, there are other batches to come, the New York Times reports.

The cost to New Jersey taxpayers for Gov. Chris Christie’s internal inquiry into lane closings at the George Washington Bridge is likely to reach several million dollars, outpacing early estimates and touching off urgent attempts to reduce the cost, according to newly available documents and interviews.

In its first batch of bills, the corporate law firm that conducted the investigation has charged the state $1.1 million for less than three weeks of work.

That figure suggests that the overall bill for the three-month-long inquiry, commissioned by Mr. Christie in January, could hit $3 million.

The Times notes that Christie's office and the law firm did scramble to negotiate down some of the costs. "In the end, the firm cut its hourly rate, to $350 an hour from $650, and waived a host of routine charges, for travel and meals, to avoid an even bigger bill." In the end, though, $3 million is still a hefty fee for taxpayers who don't necessarily trust the integrity of the firm's findings.


Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2016 Elections Bridgegate Chris Christie Gop Michael Drewniak Mike Duhaime New Jersey Scandal

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