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New subpoenas are more bad news for Chris Christie

Chris Christie takes questions from the press, in October 2014.
Chris Christie takes questions from the press, in October 2014.
Kena Betancur / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.
  1. Governor Chris Christie's 2013 reelection campaign has been subpoenaed for documents by federal prosecutors, reports Heather Haddon of the Wall Street Journal.
  2. The subpoenas relate to a series of meetings that state officials canceled with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop shortly after Fulop sent word he wouldn't endorse Christie for reelection. Haddon reports that investigators are probing whether state officials may have illegally mixed official work and campaign work.
  3. In September, NBC 4 New York reported that these same investigators had found no evidence that Christie ordered the Bridgegate scandal. These new subpoenas suggest that the investigation may not yet be winding down, though.

What's this controversy about Christie's aides canceling meetings?

In May 2013, Steven Fulop — a 36-year old Marine veteran of Iraq — was elected as mayor of Jersey City. He was immediately viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party — and, apparently, as a potential big get for Chris Christie's reelection campaign, which wanted to demonstrate the governor's bipartisan support by winning endorsements from local Democrats. The administration quickly scheduled a round of meetings for the mayor-elect with six top state officials.

However, in mid-July, Fulop sent word that he wasn't going to endorse Christie's campaign. Suddenly, as Melissa Hayes of the Bergen Record and Kate Zernike of the New York Times reported, all of those meetings were canceled — most within the very next hour, via personal calls from those top state officials. "That the commissioners called the mayor's office personally shows an unusually close level of involvement for high-ranking government officials," Zernike wrote.

It's unclear what precise potential wrongdoing the investigators are looking into. But Haddon reports that much of their focus is on one office in Christie's administration — the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs — and on how its staffers "separated official business from campaign work." Since the subpoenas went out to Christie's reelection campaign, it appears investigators might be trying to explore whether the state officials' cancellations of the meetings with Fulop were driven by the campaign.

Emails show that Christie's head of intergovernmental affairs, Bridget Kelly — the aide who wrote the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee email" — had initially arranged the meetings of state officials with Fulop.

A Bridgegate email also briefly mentioned Fulop — and showed that the mayor was not in good standing with some members of Christie's administration. In the email, Kelly asked David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who executed the lane closures, whether the calls of Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee were being returned. "Radio silence. His name comes right after Mayor Fulop," Wildstein wrote in response.

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