Two of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former staff members – both fired in the shadows of the continuing “Bridgegate” scandal – will plead with a judge on Tuesday to have their subpoenas removed.
A Superior Court judge subpoenaed Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former chief of staff, and William Stepien, his former campaign manager, to hand over any documents related to the traffic scandal that closed two of three local access lanes from Fort Lee, N.J., to the George Washington Bridge last September. But the two individuals have been unwilling to abide by the request.
Kelly last August sent an e-mail to Christie’s appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, declaring it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Her message went public on Jan. 8. The Republican governor declared his lack of knowledge about the lane closures at a press conference following the news.
Christie, feeling misled by his staff, also asked Stepien to remove his name from being state GOP chairman. Documents later revealed Stepien might have been aware of the plan to close the lanes last year, and also showed him calling the mayor of Fort Lee an “idiot.”
Both Kelly and Stepien pled the Fifth Amendment, insisting that handing over any information would violate their rights against self-incrimination, msnbc previosuly reported.
Christie has held three town hall meetings since the scandal exploded, but no one has presented him with questions about the incident at any of the events.
Before the turn of the new year, Christie, who won 60% of the vote in his re-election campaign for governor, was the leading Republican for a potential 2016 presidential bid. His political future appeared to be in danger following the break of the scandal, with his approval ratings taking a hit among both Democrats and his fellow Republicans.
A poll published last week revealed voters in New Jersey continue to view him as they did in the days immediately following the public breaking of the scandal. Less than half – 49% – of residents in the Garden State said they favor Christie, a number statistically unchanged from 46% of the public’s support in January. His overall job approval rating remains at 55%, while 39% disapprove of him.
People’s views toward the state legislator remained positive and high last year during his clean-up of Superstorm Sandy. But recent questions about how the storm funds were managed dramatically changed the public’s perception of Christie. Now, 54% approve of his efforts, a 26-point drop from last November.
Christie continues to deny ordering or knowing anything about the traffic jam.