TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie, eager to get on with business amid a scandal over traffic jams that appear to have been manufactured by his aides, is meeting with homeowners affected by Superstorm Sandy even as the Legislature prepares to issue new subpoenas as part of its investigation.
The subpoenas will be served once the New Jersey Assembly votes to renew its authority to continue the probe in the new legislative session. It is a formality. The Assembly already has tapped Reid Schar, the federal prosecutor who helped convict former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of corruption, to aid in the investigation.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is leading the investigation, says the new subpoenas will seek emails and text messages from key Christie aides. Documents that were subpoenaed earlier and released recently showed that a now-fired member of Christie's administration gave the go-ahead to shut down lanes in the community of Fort Lee leading to the busy George Washington Bridge, possibly as a political vendetta against the mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election.
The Republican governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate hasn't been implicated, but the scandal has dogged him nonetheless. He'll seek to turn the cameras away from the scandal and onto his work as governor when he visits a firehouse Thursday on the Jersey shore, an area devastated by the October 2012 storm. He'll meet there with homeowners midmorning.
Schar, a former assistant U.S. attorney, will advise a legislative committee investigating the traffic plot. The New Jersey Senate and U.S. attorney's office are conducting parallel inquiries.
The lead prosecutor in the Blagojevich case, Schar has a reputation as a bright, serious-minded workhorse who shuns showmanship and bluster. He co-chairs the white collar defense and investigations practice for the law firm Jenner & Block LLP.
He issued a statement Wednesday saying his firm "understands the importance of this investigation" and will "work diligently" to support the committee.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term for trying to sell an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.