A lawyer for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, is turning the tables on the state Legislature’s committee investigating the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.
As part of his efforts to quash the committee’s subpoena demanding Stepien produce documents related to last September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, attorney Kevin Marino (pictured above) sent his own demand for the production of documents Wednesday asking for evidence from the committee. Marino’s demand calls for the committee’s special counsel, Reid Schar, Leonard Sokol, and Anthony Bocchi, to produce “additional documents” they alluded to during a hearing about the subpoena Tuesday.
“We demand production of the alleged ‘additional documents’ that Mr. Schar claimed, at yesterday’s hearing, demonstrate that Mr. Stepien is ‘central to’ the Committee’s investigation,” Marino wrote in an accompanying letter to the special counsel Wednesday.
The lane closures led to days of traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. Some Democrats have alleged they were ordered by Christie’s allies to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who did not endorse’ the governor’s re-election bid.
Marino has been fighting the subpoena the committee issued to Stepien in January on the grounds it would violate Stepien’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Attorneys for another former Christie aide, Bridget Ann Kelly, have also been battling a subpoena sent to her.
Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson heard arguments about both subpoenas Tuesday. Jacobson did not rule and instead asked the attorneys for Stepien, Kelly, and the committee for further briefs outlining their arguments. The judge’s questions seemed to center on whether the committee was engaging in a “fishing expedition” with its subpoenas.
Schar argued documents already received by the committee from prior subpoenas issued to other officials and organisations indicated both Kelly and Stepien had knowledge of the bridge closures and that their communications could provide further context about the reason the lanes were shut. Emails obtained by the Legislature in January showed Kelly declaring it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” and Stepien describing Sokolich as “an idiot.”
In Kelly’s case, Jacobson indicated the infamous “traffic problems” email showed the committee’s belief she may have been involved in other discussions about the lane closures was “reasonable.” However, Jacobson seemed less convinced about Stepien.
“You haven’t pointed me to any email that shows, that contemplates other emails,” Jacobson said to Schar. “You’re making assumptions from the emails you have that there’s got to be more.”
Schar responded to Jacobson’s concerns by indicating the committee has received “additional documents” in response to its subpoenas that have not yet been made public, According to Schar these documents show Stepien was “central to” the closures.
“There were additional documents, and we have since received them,” Schar said.
Now, Marino would like to receive them as well.
Business Insider reached Schar by phone Wednesday and asked whether he intended to comply with Marino’s demand. Schar declined to comment and referred all questions to a spokesperson for the committee. The committee’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
View Marino’s demand and accompanying letter below.
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