20 more subpoenas in bridge scandal; Christie hires outside counsel

Randy Mastro will lead the team of lawyers hired as outside counsel by the Christie administration. AP Photo/ Marc A. Hermann
Randy Mastro will lead the team of lawyers hired as outside counsel by the Christie administration. AP Photo/ Marc A. Hermann
Posted: January 18, 2014

TRENTON - Twenty more subpoenas have been issued by the lawmaker leading a special state Assembly panel's investigation of the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The subpoenas, to individuals and organizations, were issued by Assembly Select Committee on Investigations Chairman John Wisniewski (D., Middlesex), according to a statement from the Assembly's majority Democrats.

The panel is looking into traffic jams at the bridge in September that allegedly were contrived by Christie administration operatives as political retribution.

Thursday's announcement came after the Assembly and Senate each established special committees with subpoena power to investigate the matter.

Senate lawmakers are also planning to issue subpoenas, although the timing was unclear Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, the Christie administration announced it had retained outside counsel to assist with an internal review and to cooperate with a U.S. Attorney inquiry into the decision to close access lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge.

Christie last week fired a top aide and dismissed a close political adviser implicated in e-mails subpoenaed earlier by state lawmakers that revealed an apparent plot to create gridlock in Fort Lee as a form of political punishment against the borough's Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich. Christie has maintained he did not know of the scheme.

The firm selected, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, will "review best practices for office operations and information flow" and "assist with document retention and production," according to a statement from Christie's office.

"Gov. Christie made clear last week that he will conduct an internal review to uncover the facts surrounding the lane closures in Fort Lee," the statement said. "His administration is fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney inquiry and other appropriate inquiries and requests for information."

The administration said the outside legal team will be led by Randy Mastro, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who specialized in organized crime cases. Mastro also served in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration. Giuliani, who also was Mastro's boss in the U.S. Attorney's Office, has been an ally of Christie.

The Assembly has retained Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor who convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as outside counsel to assist in its investigation. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said the Senate would also retain outside counsel.

mhanna@phillynews.com

856-989-8990

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