Lawmakers get first look at NJ bridge scandal documents
February 7th, 2014
01:41 PM ET
9 years ago

Lawmakers get first look at NJ bridge scandal documents

(CNN) - In a small room at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey sits hundreds if not thousands of pages of documents that may shed light on how access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee came to be closed in September.

The 12 members of the Legislative Select Committee on Investigations began the work of examining the documents Thursday as they look for answers in the traffic scandal that has rocked Gov. Christie's administration.

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"There are hundreds of pages. After the first hour and a half I stopped counting," said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, one of four Republicans who sit on the committee. Handlin was one of the first committee members to read through the material submitted by four people before the February 3 deadline.

The work of looking for answers to key questions – who knew what when – is expected to take some time. "This was document dump number one and there are many more on their way," Handlin said after spending several hours inside the secure room. "A number of the people subpoenaed need more time. Some of them will be submitting material to us on a rolling basis."

At least one employee from the Office of Legislative Services stands watch over the documents at all times. The non-partisan office at the capital complex also prepares the material for examination. Once a committee member has presented proper identification they're granted entry to the room and free access to anything they want to review.

Assemblywoman Handlin said no one is expecting to find a smoking gun among these pages. "It's much like building a 3D model and all we can do now is start to identify the contours," said Handlin. "Over time as more material comes in we'll be able to build up layer by layer by layer and see what really happened here."

State Senator Linda Greenstein, one of eight Democrats on the committee, was getting her first look at the documents Friday morning. She said she's just looking for answers. "It's a tough job and it's a slow job. I don't think it's going to happen overnight," said Greenstein.

"On the one hand what you want is that one little place, that eureka moment that will tie it together," said Greenstein. But she cautioned against any rush to judgment and said the material needs to be understood in context. "I am going to need several reads to get a sense of what they are saying and how it all fits together."

Greenstein said they'll follow the evidence wherever it takes them with the ultimate goal of understanding exactly what happened in Fort Lee.

So far, former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee, and three other current employees of the bi-state agency have submitted documents pertaining to the lane closures to the investigative committee.

Bridget Anne Kelly, Governor Christie's former deputy chief of staff, has refused to hand over material. Her lawyer cited her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and her rights to privacy under the 4th Amendment.

Kelly wrote the now infamous email that said "Time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee" to which David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority responded, "Got it."

Bill Stepien, Governor Christie's re-election campaign chairman is also fighting the committee's subpoena.

The Legislative Select Committee on Investigations will meet in Trenton at the start of next week.

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I know Christie has played the victim card extensively, but this is not some liberal witch hunt. The NJ legislature voted unanimously to investigate the events surrounding the bridge lane closings. It has led to at least five people looking for a new place of employment. Even right wing stalwart and political strategist Bill Kristol has called the bridge scandal "a legitimate scandal."

    February 7, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Lou

    It is a liberal media witch hunt but if he had anything to do with it let it come out. They will pursue it like a pack of wild dogs but meanwhile Benghazi, IRS scandal and everything else goes virtually ignored by the same media. Christie is a real piece of work but the idea of him doing that is remote at best. I am sure he wants it all out of the table and clearly identified as to what happened if he intends to run for any other future office. Doubtful it will come from the media scrubs that usually do all the Democrats dirty work.

    February 7, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Thomas

    What about Gov. Christie's gangster tactics in regards to hurricane Sandy relief funds for Hoboken ?

    February 7, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    "When Fair says crack down "HARD", I think she means rounding people up and deporting them, en masse. I don't see how she could possibly be talking about anything else. Fair wants our "laws enforced", which is the current, meaningless battle cry among consrvatives on the immigration issue."
    NO... when Fair says crack down HARD, she means exactly what she wrote...

    Fair is Fair

    Crack down – HARD – on anyone hiring illegals. They'll leave in droves.

    February 7, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |

    See the "anyone hiring illegals" part, Skippy? You talk anout cherry picking and try pulling this off? Take your spanking and be a man about it.

    February 7, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    Really Lou? The IRS that targeted conservative AND LIBERAL groups but only CONSERVATIVE has been screamed from the rooftops. Every day for months they talked about phony scandals but you get upset when a real scandal is investigated. Give me a break. Since the librul media is going after Christy why not go to a site where they will NEVER report anything wrong that a republikkkan does but will make up scandals about dems?

    This phony outrage is ridiculous. Everyone knows Christy is a loud mouthed bully and with any luck he'll finally get what he deserves.

    Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! You happy?

    February 7, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "meanwhile Benghazi, IRS scandal and everything else goes virtually ignored by the same media."

    The media went completely ridiculous reporting on those accusations, hearings, subpoenas, public testimony, leaked out-of-context "closed-door" testimony, etc. They've largely stopped because guess what...the evidence contradicts the accusations and the GOP/Teatrolls in the House have been able to prove nothing.

    You give Christie the benefit of the doubt when we have emails proving that his closest aides and a high school acquaintance who he appointed to a special job the port authority created just for him...and yet you assume Obama was directly involved in whatever the GOP/Teatrolls accuse him of despite a lack of any such documentary evidence linking anyone in his office, let alone his closest circle of advisors, to the controversy. Do you know what cognitive dissonance is?

    February 7, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. countingdown

    Rudy NYC
    If Christie is proved to be lying he deserves what he gets, however, if proven that he is telling the truth will you support an honest man in the White house? ____NO!

    February 7, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. tom l

    I heart Fair is Fair.

    February 7, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. Bill from GA

    Maybe they could ask the NSA for info. Cain't hide nothing from Them!!

    February 7, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Bill from GA

    I'll bet Bridget Anne Kelly would look awesome in an orange jumpsuit.

    February 7, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Bill from GA

    Christie would look like a Halloween pumpkin. (In an orange jumpsuit)

    February 7, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. countingdown

    Knew you couldn't resist this, been waiting cause last comment to you was blocked. The metric was changed when Reid invoked the nuclear option, yet the vote still failed. As for the last thread about Monica what would your opinion be if she was a he? Just wondering!
    Time for work. Don't have time to wait, besides CNN will cut this off early anyway!

    February 7, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    Rudy, you gotta give it to Fair, she DID say crack down on those hiring illegals.....

    February 7, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    I heard MSNBC is changing its name to the Get Christie Channel!

    That's all they cover anymore. Actually have to turn it to CNN to get news.

    February 7, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. g

    when reagan cut and ran from lebanon when 300 plus marines got killed ,republicans ,said nothing

    February 7, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  16. rla

    Unlike Obama's IRS someone actually went off and did something -got caught and was fired?? Progressives do not understand the concept

    February 7, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    New bumper sticker for repubs "Crack Down Hard."

    February 7, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |