Judge Mary Jacobson likened the subpoenas for Governor Chris Christie’s former chief of staff Bridget Kelly and former campaign manager Bill Stepien to a “fishing expedition” in her 98-page decision Wednesday. She added that requiring the records’ release would violate the duo’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselves.
The pair were central figures in the controversial September closure, which hobbled both sides of the George Washington Bridge with traffic jams for five days. In December, Port Authority emails were revealed suggesting that Christie’s aides arranged lane closures on the bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., as alleged political payback. At the time of the closures, the Port Authority claimed that a traffic safety study had prompted the shut down.
Democrats allege that the closures were orchestrated to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, and have since issued more than two dozen subpoenas. Stepien and Kelly were the only two targets who declined to comply, saying records could be misconstrued to incriminate them despite their innocence.
Garden State lawmakers are now consulting with lawyers to determine their next move, which could include appealing the ruling or issuing a slimmed-down subpoena, Assemblyman John Wisiniewski told the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s not a stop light on our investigation, it’s a detour,” he told the paper. [WSJ] — Julie Strickland