Bridge-related documents sought from Christie political adviser

Posted: May 09, 2014

The legislative committee probing the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge has subpoenaed a top political adviser to Gov. Christie.

The subpoena to Mike DuHaime, announced Wednesday, seeks communications and documents related to the September lane closures, as well as concerning specific conversations between DuHaime and several other figures in the controversy.

Those conversations - including a Nov. 11 meeting with David Wildstein, the former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official who oversaw the closures, and a December phone conversation with Christie - were noted by DuHaime in an interview with lawyers hired by Christie to review the issue.

According to a summary of the interview provided by the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, DuHaime said Wildstein told him in November that it was Wildstein's idea to conduct a traffic study at the bridge.

Wildstein also told DuHaime that former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and the governor's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, knew about the traffic study beforehand, according to the interview summary.

DuHaime told the Gibson Dunn lawyers that he conveyed Wildstein's claims to Christie in a phone conversation about a month later, after Wildstein had resigned from the Port Authority.

Christie fired Kelly and cut ties with Stepien in January after the disclosure of e-mails revealing an apparent plot to jam traffic at the bridge, including an August e-mail from Kelly to Wildstein that read, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Some have speculated the closures were meant to target Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who did not endorse Christie's reelection.

An internal review by Gibson Dunn did not identify a motive for the closures but laid blame on Wildstein and Kelly. The firm's report said Christie was cleared of wrongdoing.

Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski (D., Middlesex), cochair of the legislative panel, said Wednesday that DuHaime's interview with Gibson Dunn "implies he had a higher level of knowledge than we previously thought."

Wisniewski said he was not suggesting that DuHaime was involved in the lane closures. But the committee wants to know "what he knows and how did he obtain that information," Wisniewski said.

DuHaime's lawyer, Marc Mukasey, accused Wisniewski of playing politics, saying DuHaime had been willing to cooperate without a subpoena.

DuHaime "was not involved in the decisions around the lane closures, as has been well established at this point," Mukasey said in a statement. "That simple fact, plus the fact that Mike offered to cooperate without need of a subpoena, gives us great concern that this is really about politics and the chairman's political future. That would be unfortunate, to say the least."

In addition to describing conversations with Wildstein and Christie, DuHaime also told Gibson Dunn lawyers that he spoke with Stepien in December, and Stepien said Wildstein had approached him with an idea for a traffic study, according to the interview summary.

Stepien, telling DuHaime that Wildstein always had "crazy ideas," said he told Wildstein to "take the idea to 'Trenton,' " according to the interview summary.

Stepien and Kelly last month won a court battle over their refusal to provide documents to the panel. Wisniewski said the committee had not made a final decision on whether it will continue to pursue documents from the two.

Also on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey announced a lawsuit against the Christie administration, claiming a government transparency activist was wrongly denied access to records of public records requests for documents related to the lane closures. The activist, Harry Scheeler of Cape May County, files requests for records to state agencies to monitor the state's compliance with open public records laws.

The legislative investigatory panel has issued subpoenas to 29 people and organizations related to the bridge lane closures, Wisniewski said. It also recently issued several subpoenas for testimony. On Tuesday, the panel heard from a former aide to Kelly, Christina Renna, who said she did not believe Kelly was the architect of the lane closures.


mhanna@phillynews.com

609-989-8990

@maddiehanna

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