Governor Chris Christie

Christie’s “Bridgegate” Investigation Cost NJ Taxpayers Over $6 Million

Documents released last week showed the law firm that represented New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and investigated his involvement with the George Washington Bridge scandal has billed the state of New Jersey $6.5 million.

The state of New Jersey released invoices from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the firm hired by Christie, for $3.25 million for the months of January and February 2014, $2.49 million for the month of March, and $771,000 for the month of April. The state also released invoices charging $670,000 from law firms representing state employees who had been subpoenaed regarding the GWB scandal investigation. The invoices will be paid by taxpayers.

In March, Gibson Dunn released a 360-page report that cleared Christie of wrongdoing relating to the bridge lane closures. The report stated that the lane closures on the bridge were planned to target a local mayor, but evidence couldn’t be found that Christie was directly involved.

“We found that Gov. Christie had no knowledge beforehand of this George Washington Bridge realignment idea,” said lead investigator Randy Mastro, who released the report, in March.

Gibson Dunn had donated $10,000 to the Republican Governors Association, an organization chaired by Christie, nine days before the firm absolved Christie of wrongdoing in its report.

The report pointed to former Christie aide Bridget Kelly and senior official of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey David Wildstein as the culprits. Kelly had sent an email to Wildstein that stated “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” in reference to the lane closures, to which Wildstein had replied “got it“. Kelly was fired in January, and Wildstein retired in December 2013.

The report from Gibson Dunn invoked criticism from many, including John Wisniewski, who was the co-chair of a legislative committee also investigating the lane closures. Wisniewski pointed out that three people were never interviewed by the firm, including Kelly, Wildstein, and former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien. The three had all declined interviews.

“If we don’t hear from the person who put the lane closures into motion, Bridget Kelly, who we know sent the email ‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee’ … if we don’t know why she sent that email, if we don’t know who gave her the authority to send that email, if we don’t know what she thought she may be accomplishing by sending that email, then we can’t have a complete picture of what happened here,” said Wisniewski.

Federal investigations of the GWB scandal, including one conducted by a special state legislative committee and two by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are still ongoing. Paul Fishman, New Jersey’s US Attorney, said last month that he’s unsure of how long it will take to complete the investigations. “Thorough, complete investigations take time. They have to be done right. They have to be done thoroughly and that’s all I’ll say about that,” he said.