Former Chris Christie Aide Demands Corrections To Bridgegate Report

05/14/2014 07:09 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2014
  • Andrew Perez National Political Reporter for International Business Times

WASHINGTON -- A lawyer for Bill Stepien, a former top political adviser to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), is requesting corrections to a report by Christie's legal team that claims Stepien lied to the governor about his advance knowledge of the lane closure scheme at the George Washington Bridge.

Attorney Kevin Marino said in a statement Wednesday that he sent a letter to the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, demanding that it issue two corrections to a report it released in March based on its internal investigation into the September 2013 lane closures. Those closures, which caused severe traffic jams, were apparently a form of political retaliation on the part of members of Christie's staff toward the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Marino demanded that Gibson Dunn retract the assertion that Stepien had assured Christie he had "no prior knowledge" of the "lane realignment." Marino maintained that Stepien told Christie he did know about it beforehand.

He also requested that Gibson Dunn attorney Randy Mastro, who led the investigation, remove his "demonstrably false legal assertion that an adverse inference can be drawn from Mr. Stepien's invocation of the Fifth Amendment in response to the subpoena of a legislative committee."

A judge ruled last month that Stepien did not have to produce documents requested by the committee that were allegedly related to the lane closures.

Marino said he demanded that Mastro "expressly state what his investigation had clearly revealed: that Mr. Stepien was not involved in the origination, planning, execution, or concealment" of the September lane closure scheme.

Mastro said in a statement Wednesday that his firm responded to Stepien's lawyer and that it does not intend to make any corrections.

“Shortly after receiving Bill Stepien's lawyer's request to ‘correct’ our report, we respectfully declined because, based on the evidence, there is no basis for any correction," Mastro said. "We nevertheless offered Bill Stepien and his lawyer the opportunity to provide us with any evidence they wanted us to consider, but we have received nothing from them. And self-serving statements by lawyers are not evidence. Hence, our report stands as is.”

Stepien managed Christie's successful reelection campaign last year, and Christie hired him as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association. But Stepien lost his job in January after a legislative committee investigating the "Bridgegate" scandal released emails in which he disparaged Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

Stepien is now the second former Christie aide to claim there were errors in the report, which contained summaries -- not actual transcripts -- from interviews with Christie and 74 current and former staffers.

The internal review, which found that Christie had no role in, or prior knowledge of, the lane closures, has come under criticism on a number of fronts.

Gibson Dunn failed to interview any employees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where orchestrators carried out the Bridgegate scheme. Separately, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D) called the report's language "sexist" because it repeatedly characterized ex-Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly as "emotional" and claimed Stepien had broken off an affair with her.

Gibson Dunn billed taxpayers more than $1 million in January. New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman (R) told legislators on Tuesday that he expects the firm will bill more for its work, and that there is no ceiling on how much it can be paid.

This story has been updated to include Randy Mastro's response to Kevin Marino.

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