JERSEY CITY, New Jersey– A new series of emails links senior Christie administration political strategist Mike DuHaime to the main perpetrators of the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge last year, placing known BridgeGate culprits one step closer to Governor Chris Christie.
The Star-Ledger reported this week that DuHaime received an email sent to himself and former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien about the George Washington Bridge closings from Matt Mowers. Mowers, who approached Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for an endorsement for Christie shortly before the bridge fiasco, asked DuHaime and Stepien how to respond to a comment request from Wall Street Journal reporter Ted Mann about the bridge lane closings and the alleged “traffic study” prompting them. “Not sure how you are handling or wanted handled… I don’t plan to return his call on this unless you want me to,” Mowers wrote.
Another new email links Stepien, who was fired during Governor Christie’s two-hour press conference in response to the scandal last January, to the Port Authority, as Stepien thanked Port Authority official Bill Baroni for his testimony during the first bridge scandal legislative hearings.
DuHaime, on his part, released a statement to the Star-Ledger denying any wrongdoing. “Mike had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the decision to close the bridge in September 2013,” his attorney said, adding that DuHaime was ready to cooperate with any investigation.
Stepien, however, will not go so easily. The newly minted private sector GOP consultant pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights when subpoenaed to appear before the New Jersey Legislature’s committee on the bridge scandal and has refused to hand over any documents. The Bergen Record reported Tuesday that Stepien is also denouncing the release of the new emails this week. Stepien’s attorney, Kevin Marino, objected that the documents could not be released to the public without the committee coming to a majority vote. He also demanded the names of those who released the files and claimed they were subject to a “disorderly persons” complaint.
The peripheral controversies surrounding the bridge scandal continue to take a toll on Governor Christie’s popularity, despite the lack of direct evidence that Christie was involved in the incident. At a town hall meeting yesterday, the governor was once again confronted by protesters, objecting to both the slow distribution of federal funding for Hurricane Sandy victims and the general implied corruption of the administration. Video from the Star-Ledger:
On Wednesday, the protests spread directly to the Port Authority. An executive meeting of Port Authority officials in Jersey City attracted a number of protesters calling for Port Authority Chairman David Samson to step down. Samson’s contracts with the state of New Jersey are currently under review, as many suspect that his relationship with Christie led to his private firm receiving contracts that cost the state of New Jersey millions of dollars. The contract Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer alleged she was cajoled into signing was for a redevelopment project with Samson’s firm. Jersey Journal reporter Terrence McDonald published footage of the protesters on Twitter around noon today:
Protest outside Port Authority meeting in Jersey City https://t.co/XZ7k0tTMu8
— Terrence T. McDonald (@terrencemcd) March 19, 2014
Governor Christie has remained mum in recent weeks as the state awaits news from the legislative committee on the bridge scandal, instead focusing his efforts on passing his budget proposal for the year and promoting his mental health initiatives.