Legal fees surpass Christie's available campaign cash

Gov. Christie's campaign owes $264,000 in legal and documentation fees and has an account balance of $156,587, according to a filing with the state.
Gov. Christie's campaign owes $264,000 in legal and documentation fees and has an account balance of $156,587, according to a filing with the state. (AP)
Posted: April 22, 2014

Legal fees incurred by Gov. Christie's reelection campaign, apparently in connection with investigations into the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, have surpassed the amount of cash in the campaign's coffers, according to a filing with state election law officials.

Christie's campaign owes $264,000 in legal and documentation fees, compared with an account balance of $156,587, according to a quarterly report filed April 15 with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

The campaign - which has received subpoenas for documents from federal prosecutors and state lawmakers - appears to have incurred close to $320,000 in fees related to the investigations.

The campaign paid the Patton Boggs law firm $50,000 in March and owes $110,000, according to the ELEC filing. A lawyer from the firm, Mark Sheridan, has been representing the campaign.

The campaign also owes $154,000 to Stroz Friedberg, a digital forensics and investigations firm, the ELEC filing shows. The campaign paid the firm $4,814 in March.

Sheridan is out of the country and could not be reached for comment Monday. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the legal fees Monday, said Sheridan confirmed that costs paid by the campaign to Patton Boggs and Stroz Friedberg were related to the bridge probe. A representative of Stroz Friedberg did not return messages.

ELEC voted in February to allow the campaign to use the money in its account and raise additional cash to cover the costs of responding to the subpoenas.

At the time, Sheridan said that while the campaign had received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office, it was not a target of a federal investigation.

If that were to change, Sheridan would have to seek an advisory opinion from ELEC. The state Supreme Court has ruled that elected officials cannot use campaign donations to defend against criminal investigations.

Other costs of the bridge investigation will be borne by taxpayers. By the end of March, the legislative panel probing the lane closures had incurred about $500,000 in legal fees, according to invoices.

The committee hired Reid Schar of the Chicago firm Jenner & Block at a cost of $350 an hour.

The Christie administration has not released information on the cost of its outside counsel, Gibson Dunn, which it retained for $650 an hour.

Last month, the New York firm released a report that it said cleared the governor of wrongdoing in the bridge controversy and dismissed allegations related to the state's distribution of Hurricane Sandy aid.


mhanna@phillynews.com

609-989-8990

@maddiehanna

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