The U.S. attorney investigating Christie's administration has subpoenaed documents from both the governor's re-election campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, as part of an investigation into the allegations that members of Christie's staff planned a massive traffic jam near the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution. U.S. attorney Paul Fishman has not yet publicly weighed in on the subpoenas, but lawyers for both organizations confirmed the subpoenas to NBC News on Thursday.
“Patton Boggs has been retained to represent the Christie for Governor re-election campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee in connection with investigations being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the legislative committee," Christie campaign lawyer Robert Luskin said in a statement to NBC News' Michael Isikoff. "We can confirm that the Christie for Governor re-election campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee received subpoenas for documents from the U.S. Attorney’s office, in addition to the subpoena the campaign previously received from the state legislative committee. All three subpoenas focus on the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. The campaign and the state party intend to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the state legislative committee and will respond to the subpoenas accordingly.”
A spokesperson with the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.
The weeks of scandals and revelations are beginning to have a marked effect on public opinion toward the Republican governor, whom pundits and politicians alike have floated as a potential 2016 contender. Christie’s favorability rating has plummeted, and he's losing sway with his own party.
A Rutgers/Eagleton poll released Wednesday found the Republican governor’s favorability rating has fallen to 46%, down 22 points from just before his reelection. Christie's approval rating is down, too—15 points since November, when he handily won re-election—but he still has a majority of voters’ support, 53%.
After several weeks of additional allegations, like the ones from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer who told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki that the governor’s office had withheld Sandy relief funds in an attempt to get her to support a city development project the governor favored, the numbers are tanking even more, particularly among Democrats and Independents.
Democrats primarily account for the big dip in favorability in the Rugters-Eagleton poll, but another survey by Fox News found that Christie's sway with Republicans may be suffering in light of the scandals. And only 41% of Republicans nationwide feel Christie has a promising future in the GOP, according to the Fox News poll. That's a 22-point drop from November 2012.
It's not likely to subside anytime soon as allegations come out of the woodwork: next week is the first court date in yet another suit alledging abuse of power. On Tuesday, the Christie administration will attempt to suppress Grand Jury records in a suit alledging that the attorney general dismissed criminal indictments against Christie supporters.
The governor, who enjoyed sky-high favorability and approval ratings after Hurricane Sandy, saw a slight drop after news broke that allegations of his staff orchestrating a traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. as political attribution were true—allegations he mocked in an abrasive press conference.
It’s a big blow to the governor many say had promise on a national stage, particularly because of his appeal to independents and Democratic voters.
At a private event last week, Christie told top donors that he didn't know when the scandal would end. “He said, ‘I don’t know,’” Republican donor heavyweight Ken Langone told Politico. “‘But as far as I’m concerned, I did what I can do, with great apologies and embarrassment.’”
As public opinion slips, the Republican party is also working out its feelings on the governor.
On Tuesday, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli appeared on CNN and called on Christie to step down as head of the Republican Governor’s Association, a job normally held by a successful, popular governor who acts as a cheerleader and fundraiser for other Republican heads of state.
“I think just from the perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes sense for him to step aside in that role,” Cuccinelli said. “He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman.”
Christie aides struck back immediately, criticizing Cuccinelli for his November loss.
“This is disappointing, given the RGA was by far the largest single donor to his losing campaign, giving more than $8 million—a significant portion of which was raised by Governor Christie,” Michael Duhaime said.
Party leader Reince Priebus also came to Christie’s defense at a Republican National Committee meeting this week.
“I don’t know of a better governor right now to lead that effort that is just a powerhouse across the country. I have seen him in rooms and I have seen him turn crowds on and his job is to raise a lot of money for the RGA and he can do that and I am sure the RGA is proud to have him,” Priebus said.
Party aside, the group that disapproves of Christie the most? Commuters who use the George Washington Bridge at least once a week. Just 34% of commuters on the bridge favor the governor in the Rutgers poll.
Ned Resnikoff contributed reporting to this article.