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Report: Internal review absolves Christie of wrongdoing in bridge scandal

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Gov. Chris Christie has been found to have no role in the planning or execution of the lane closures, according to a report Monday by The New York Times.
Gov. Chris Christie has been found to have no role in the planning or execution of the lane closures, according to a report Monday by The New York Times. - ()

The internal review commissioned two months ago by Gov. Chris Christie into the George Washington Bridge scandal will soon be released and find that the governor had no role in the planning or execution of the lane closures, according to a report Monday by The New York Times.

The review, which the Times reports will cost state taxpayers at least $1 million in legal fees, was conducted by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a law firm with reported ties to the Christie administration, at the rate of $650 per hour. Leading the inquiry was Randy Mastro, a lawyer with the firm.

The Times reports that more than 70 interviews were conducted as part of the review, including with Christie, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, state Port Authority officials and all current members of the governor's senior staff.

However, key accounts are missing from former Christie aide Bridget Kelly, ex-campaign manager Bill Stepien and former Port Authority official David Wildstein, all three of whom either resigned or were fired by the governor in the scandal's wake. Kelly, Stepien and Wildstein all refused to participate in the internal review.

Also not included in the review were interviews with Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich and Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has claimed that members of the Christie administration threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy aid from her city if she did not approve a politically-connected development project there. That claim of misconduct was also investigated by the firm, the Times reports.

A Christie spokesperson told the Times that the inquiring lawyers were met with "no restrictions" to access to staff members, documents and communication devices from the governor's office.

As for doubt on the review's legitimacy, Mastro told the paper that there was no advantage to uncovering anything but the truth since separate outside investigations currently being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office and a legislative committee would tell otherwise.

It is still unclear as to when the report will be made public.

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Andrew George

Andrew George


Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com.

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