The New Jersey Legislature’s committee investigating last September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge met Monday and voted on six motions related to arguments two ex-aides to Gov. Chris Christie (R) made in response to the committee’s subpoenas. At the meeting the committee voted to declare the Fifth Amendment objections raised by Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Stepien “invalid.”
Stepien, Christie’s former campaign manager, and Kelly, his former deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, both invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to turn over documents requested by the committee. Both Stepien and Kelly were fired by Christie last month after documents subpoenaed by the New Jersey General Assembly’s committee that was initially investigating the closures found they were involved in discussions about the order to shut the lanes. Some Democrats have alleged the lanes were closed by Christie allies to retaliate against a mayor who declined to endorse the governor’s re-election bid.
At the meeting Monday, the committee began with about two hours in closed session. According to comments made by some of the members once they returned to open session, special counsel Reid Schar briefed the members on the constitutionality of Kelly and Stepien’s objections during the closed session.
Once they returned to open session, the committee approved three motions related to Kelly’s objection. The first declared the “books, papers, correspondence, and other documents and materials” requested from Kelly to be “necessary” to the investigation. The second motion deemed her objection “invalid. Finally, the third motion compelled the production of the materials requested from Kelly “on a day to be determined by special counsel.” All three motions were approved, with the four Republicans on the committee abstaining and the eight Democrats voting yes.
After the motions on Kelly, the committee voted on identical motions concerning the subpoena sent to Stepien. Those three motions were also approved with the four committee Republican committee members abstaining.