Bridge-gate Legal Fees Running Up to $340 an Hour for NJ Taxpayers

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 02:27 PM

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New Jersey taxpayers are shelling out as much as $340 an hour for lawyers to represent five present or former staffers of Gov. Chris Christie in the ongoing bridge-gate scandal, the Asbury Park Press reported Wednesday.

One of those benefiting is Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who was fired after details emerged about the four-day traffic jam orchestrated by Christie's top aides, allegedly for political payback.

Others include Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak, former Christie aide Christina Genovese Renna, and a current aide, Evan Ridley. The fifth person has not been identified, the newspaper said.

New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski — who as chief of the New Jersey Select Committee on Investigation is probing bridge-gate — fears the whopping legal fees may be part of a plan to turn the public against continuing the investigation.

"The question we’ve all been asking is: What is the truth worth? If the governor’s administration is unfairly and unflinchingly spending taxpayer money, that’s unfortunate, but I don’t believe it will stop people from wanting the answers about what happened at the bridge last September," Wisniewski told the Press.

The lawyers fees were disclosed by the office of acting Attorney General John Hoffman. The Press reported that Christie’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the Bergen Record revealed Wednesday that Gibson Dunn, the law firm that cleared Christie of wrongdoing in bride-gate following an internal investigation at $650 per hour, gave $10,000 to a national political group the governor heads.

The disclosure came as the list of those donating to the Republican Governors Association in the months since Christie took over as its chairman was released.

The Record reported that the list of donors includes a hedge fund billionaire, large pharmaceutical companies, and Gibson Dunn.

The law firm forked over the $10,000 to the RGA on March 18 — only nine days before it released a report clearing Christie.

The report, authorized by Christie and costing taxpayers about $1 million, has been slammed by critics as a whitewash.

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