Chris Christie makes his first out-of-state political trip of the year to Florida to hold fundraisers in Naples this evening and Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach on Saturday to benefit the RGA and Gov. Rick Scott. He will spend Sunday in Palm Beach with wealthy donors at Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone’s home. Capitol Soup (“Florida news straight from the Source”) reported yesterday: “The Christie and Scott teams aren’t exactly forthcoming these days. What we do know is there are a series of closed-press fundraisers and no public events, which means either Chris Christie doesn’t want to answer questions about his scandal or Rick Scott just doesn’t want to be seen in public with Christie. We don’t blame either of them.” Not an auspicious start for our governor who is also Chairman this year of the Republican Governors Association.
The Democratic National Committee says, “Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (a U. S. Representative for FL 23) and Florida Democratic Party Officials will hold press events in Orlando on Saturday morning and in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday afternoon to respond to Governor Christie’s Florida trip and to discuss Rick Scott’s failed record.”
Subpoenas raining down on current and former Executive Office officials: Among those individuals now (or soon to be) learning they must supply documents to Assembly or Senate Committees are the Chief of Staff (Kevin O’Dowd), Chief Counsel (Charles McKenna), Director of Authorities Unit (Regina Egea), Deputy chief of Staff (Maria Comella), a recently fired Deputy Chief of Staff (Bridget Anne Kelly), and a prior Deputy Chief of Staff (Bill Stepien who left to become Christie’s Campaign Manager and is now jobless). Further down the chain is the Governor’s spokesperson Michael Drewniak, and off the chain are the Port Authority Chairman (David Samson) and a P. A. board member (Pat Schuber).
There are even more subpoenas to be issued that we don’t know about yet. Subpoenas are not synonymous with guilt but they sure are ominous. Here is Christie’s current list of Senior Staff members which seems to undergo continuous revision. Not in my memory has there been a scandal reaching so many members of a Governor’s inner circle, with four key Christie associates already jobless. Two of them are requesting the P. A. to bear their legal expenses.
The newest member of Team Christie is lawyer Randy Mastro, likened to a “legal alligator.” The Asbury Park Press adds more detail to his profile: “Mastro as Deputy Mayor of New York wielded a baseball bat during meetings to emphasize his points. Referring to his “we-hit-them-they-hit-us” approach, the Daily News called Mastro “the only trigger man in town who can make Giuliani look like Mr. Nice Guy.” Mastro will play a key role in deciding which inquiries are “appropopriate” and try to ignore or redact what is “inappropriate.” He and his law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutch will use crisis management techniques of damage control and containment. Not an easy job.
Port Authority answers Rockefeller committee questions but breaks no new ground. The P. A. met its deadline to respond to U. S. Sen. Rockefeller’s questions regarding Bridgegate but it relied largely on information from public testimony. It re-explained what its normal procedures are and stated the procedures were not followed. It refused to speculate “on the motivations taken behind actions at GWB” and said the issue is still under investigation. Sen Rockefeller concluded, “The Port Authority’s response provides zero evidence that the purpose of these closures was to conduct a legitimate traffic study.”