TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have escalated their criminal investigation into allegations that Gov. Chris Christie’s aides created traffic jams as political payback, subpoenaing his re-election campaign and the state Republican leadership.
The subpoenas seek documents related to the closure of traffic lanes near the George Washington Bridge, according to Mark Sheridan, a lawyer representing Christie for Governor and the Republican State Committee.
The subpoenas were disclosed Thursday, the same day the Republican governor’s campaign announced it had hired the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs in the case. Sheridan works for the firm and is general counsel for the state Republican committee.
A state legislative committee investigating the traffic jams has also issued a subpoena to the Christie campaign.
“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,” Sheridan told The Associated Press.
The federal subpoenas are due Feb. 5. The state committee subpoenas must be returned Feb. 3.
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said only that his office was reviewing the matter “to determine whether a federal law was implicated.”
Christie, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, was New Jersey’s U.S. attorney before stepping down in late 2008 to run for governor.
Federal officials refused to comment. The governor’s office did not return an email request for comment.
The traffic lanes were closed for four days in September, creating traffic gridlock in Fort Lee, the town at the base of the bridge on the New Jersey side. Some of Christie’s aides initially said the closures were part of a traffic study, but emails and text messages turned over to legislators suggest it may have been a message to the town’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie.
Four people close to Christie have been fired or resigned as the scandal has unfolded, including Christie’s two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepien.