The Christie for Governor campaign is looking to build up its coffers yet again but not to keep Christie in the governor’s mansion. The campaign, subpoenaed by the New Jersey State Legislature in its ongoing investigation of closures at the George Washington Bridge, does not have enough money for its legal defense.
According to The Star-Ledger, the campaign cannot currently use the money saved up from the campaign to legally defend itself in the ongoing bridge scandal investigation, as per the rules of the Election Law Enforcement Commission of New Jersey. It can only use a limited amount, which would leave it unable to respond to the subpoena from the state legislature with the full number of documents requested. Should it not be able to do so, it will be held in contempt and potentially forced to pay even more out-of-pocket fines.
Attorney Mark Sheridan–one of two attorneys retained by the campaign for the investigation–sent a letter yesterday to the commission requesting permission on behalf of the campaign. He noted that, unlike other similar requests from political campaigns in the state that have been denied, the Christie for Governor campaign has not been charged with any wrongdoing and is only participating in an investigation, not a trial.
While the campaign does have more than $12,000 on hand from the election, it is not legally permitted to use a percentage of that money for legal defense, nor does it believe it will be sufficient for such an ongoing investigation. Additionally, for his own investigation of the incident, the U.S. Attorney has also asked the campaign to produce documents.
The commission has ten days to respond to the request, though the deadline for the campaign to send in the requested documents is this Monday. An extension has been granted until the commission determines the validity of the request.
The New Jersey Legislative Committee undertaking this investigation issued 20 subpoenas to individuals and groups this month, including most of Christie’s senior staff and his campaign. Also among the subpoenaed were former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who wrote the now-infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email, and David Wildstein, the recipient of said email and the man personally responsible for shutting down traffic into and out of Fort Lee.
Wildstein was held in contempt for pleading the Fifth Amendment to every question at the last round of hearings on the matter. He has vowed not to speak during this hearing unless he receives prosecutorial immunity.
The hearings are set to begin mid-February.