State lawmakers consider new hearings on Bridge-Gate corruption case
New Jersey lawmakers say they are considering new hearings on the Bridge-Gate scandal as the trial of two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie wraps up.
Jurors in the trial were supposed to hear closings arguments Thursday, but the trial was postponed for a day while Judge Susan Davis Wigenton dealt with a "legal issue." The judge did not elaborate.
Lawmakers say testimony during the trial raises questions about how far the Bridge-Gate conspiracy may have gone. Some say it may have gone all the way up to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
"This is exactly how the mob works. Fall on your sword, take the wrap. When you get out, we'll take care of you and your family," says political activist Bill Brennan, describing Gov. Christie's inner circle.
Bridge-Gate defendant Bridget Kelly testified this week that a lawyer called her on the eve of her firing from the governor's office. Kelly said that he told her everything would be fine and a job would be found for her.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg says that this lawyer has seen his position rise significantly since the scandal.
"The educated guess is that [that lawyer] is now Supreme Court Justice Wally Timpone," Sen. Weinberg says.
If this is true, Timpone's name may be on the U.S. Attorney's Office's list of unindicted co-conspirators in the scandal. This list has never been released, despite calls to make it public.
Brennan says the testimony means Timpone committed witness tampering.
"This is her lawyer saying, 'Don't worry. We're going to find a job for you.' He's not an employment agent, he's an attorney. He's supposed to be giving her the best criminal defense," Brennan says.
Some say that Gov. Christie's name may also appear on the list, based on testimony that he knew about the lane closings while they were happening.
Sen. Weinberg says that she would like to find out. She says that she is in talks with party leaders to call on some of the witnesses with conflicting stories to hearings at the State House after the trial concludes.
"If it was up to me personally, I'd like to sit across the table from the governor," the senator says.
Brennan is pursuing a misconduct complaint against the governor for the scandal.
When there's a strong likelihood that a Supreme Court justice and the attorney general of the state are unindicted co-conspirators in a crime committed against the citizens of New Jersey, something has to be done and something drastic," he says.
Gov. Christie's office has called Brennan's complaint "dishonorable."
Brennan expects a ruling next week on his motion for prosecutors to recuse themselves from the case because of conflicts of interest based on the governor's appointments.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey Supreme Court tells News 12 New Jersey that justices do not respond to media inquiries.
Kelly, a former aide to Gov. Christie, and former Port Authority official Bill Baroni are on trial for allegedly orchestrating a plot to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee to cause traffic in the town. This was allegedly done as payback for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich choosing not to endorse Gov. Christie's 2013 re-election campaign.