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Top Christie aides get subpoenas in bridge scandal probe

Top Christie aides get subpoenas in bridge scandal probe

SUBPOENAS: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during his annual State of the State address in Trenton, New Jersey Jan. 14. Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New Jersey state Senate panel is likely to issue subpoenas next week in its investigation into traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge that were apparently politically motivated, a source said on Friday.

Aides and allies of Christie were also among those targeted by a separate panel convened by the state Assembly, which issued 20 subpoenas seeking information on Thursday in its own investigation.

The Senate panel will meet on Wednesday to vote on the subpoenas as it looks into the abrupt closing of access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, in seeming retribution aimed at the small city’s Democratic mayor, who failed to endorse Governor Chris Christie’s re-election bid last year, the source said.

The bridge scandal surrounding the Republican governor, who is thought to be weighing a bid for the White House in 2016, broke open last week with the public release of emails showing a top Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, appearing to order up traffic problems in Fort Lee.

Four days of hours-long jams in September left commuters fuming and delayed school buses and emergency vehicles.

Among those getting subpoenas from the Assembly panel are Kelly, who was fired last week by Christie, his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, press spokesman Michael Drewniak and Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, according to the source.

Foye, who ordered the lanes reopened, said in publicly released emails that he believed the closings violated state and federal law.

The source said the first subpoenas from the Senate panel are likely to be issued on Wednesday or Thursday.

NBC News, citing an unnamed source, said Christie’s re-election campaign organization also was issued an Assembly subpoena, as was David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the busy bridge, which spans the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey.

Several other members of Christie’s staff also received subpoenas seeking information in the case, the source said.

Along with the two state legislative panels, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey is investigating the lane closings.

On Thursday, the Christie administration, which says it is cooperating fully with the probes, hired outside legal counsel.

Christie has adamantly denied being part of the apparent scheme, saying it left him blind-sided and humiliated.

He was not among those getting subpoenaed, the head of the Assembly panel, Democrat John Wisniewski, said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Edith Honan and Ellen Wulfhorst; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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