The investigation of Bridgegate/Hoboken/Port Authority/Christie’s Executive Office has all the elements of a great mystery story, except it’s not fiction. It fits into the genre of procedural crime where it is believed there might be criminal activity which could include corruption at the top. The FBI and prosecutors use subpoenas, issue search warrants, interrogate witnesses, gather evidence, invoke a grand jury, grant immunity to a few, and then indict and take the case to court. In some stories the suspect at the very top although tarnished is not indicted. There is satisfaction when most guilty parties are meted out punishment, and there is a lingering suspicion that anyone who escaped justice will later suffer consequences.
Recent news tells us that this procedural is well underway in New Jersey. ABC News reported that Christie Spokesperson Michael Drewniak, whose lawyer says he is not a target, answered questions before the Newark Grand jury. Another source, Main Justice, says that Christie Port Authority appointee David Wildstein, was “camped at the U. S. Attorney’s office” last week. Also Main Justice states, “Charles McKenna, Chief Counsel to Christie, met secretly in mid-January with investigators working for U. S. Attorney Fishman.” Other news sources have reported that the FBI have questioned people connected with Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former Campaign Manager Bill Stepien.
Ohers entwined in this mystery story include Christie Port Authority appointees David Samson (former Chair), Bill Baroni (former Deputy Director) and Philip Kwon (P. A. Legal Department and former Christie nominee to the Supreme Court), and Christie Chief of Staff Kevin O’Dowd.
Although it is not yet clear what exactly the crimes may be, this tale has a large cast of interesting and diverse characters – some who definitely were involved in the lane closings and others who may have known early about it, masterminded it or covered it up. The story is complex as it may also involve extortion in Hoboken, illegal conflicts of interest on the Port Authority Board, and unlawful use of federal Sandy funds.
In forthcoming posts there will be an examination of the individual cast members and what we have learned about them from the Legislative Select Committee documents, the Mastro Report and other sources. Some with significant information can be granted immunity from the U. S. Attorney to testify. The legislative committee is also in a position to develop new information. It becomes increasingly likely that this procedural will continue to unfold, and lead us closer to “who done it” and why. At the conclusion this story might well become a book – a fascinating and tawdry tale.