Bridgegate Subpoenas Quashed by Judge [POLL/AUDIO]
In a devastating blow for the legislative committee investigating Bridgegate, a judge has ruled that two key players in the scandal do not have to turn over subpoenaed documents. Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), co-chair of the Select Committee on Investigation, said his panel's work will not stop, even with these cases being dismissed.
"Certainly it's a setback," Wisniewski said. "We would have liked to have the judge reach a different conclusion, and we're examining her legal reasoning. The committee is going to consult with our counsel and consider the options that are in front of us."
In September, access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee were closed without prior notice, snarling traffic for four days. Some Democrats believe this was done to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Gov. Chris Christie's re-election. The ensuing scandal has threatened Christie's presidential aspirations, if he ever truly had any.
One of Christie's deputy chiefs of staff, Bridget Kelly, was fired after an email apparently sent by her went public in which she wrote, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Christie also cut ties with his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepien, after Stepien's involvement in the scandal became clear.
Claiming that turning over subpoenaed documents to the SCI would violate their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Kelly and Stepien resisted complying with their subpoenas. Wednesday, a judge agreed with them.
"Plaintiff's (SCI) applications for judgments declaring that defendants (Kelly and Stepien) have failed, without justification, to produce documents in accordance with the subpoenas are denied, as are plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief ordering defendants to comply with the subpoenas," wrote Judge Mary Jacobson. "Plaintiff's complaints in both actions are dismissed."
Wisniewski vowed that the story would not end with Jacobson's ruling.
"Certainly, an appeal is an option," Wisniewski said. "Redrafting the subpoenas is an option, and continuing to move forward with other individuals in asking questions of those individuals, and taking testimony from folks we've already received documents from, are all options that are in front of the committee. None of them are mutually exclusive. We could theoretically pursue all of those options."
Some Republican insiders are already balking at the very idea of appealing, citing the cost.