Murphy: Christie Should Pick Up Tab for Bridgegate Investigation

Gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, calls for independent audit of the costs of Christie's Bridgegate defense.

Gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, calls for independent audit of the costs of Christie’s Bridgegate defense.

The first official candidate in New Jersey’s 2017 gubernatorial race called on Governor Chris Christie to foot the bill for the investigation into the Bridgegate scandal instead of drawing on tax coffers. The investigation into whether Christie knew about two appointees’ plot to close down lanes on the George Washington Bridge in retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee has cost the state over $10 million.

The administration, Murphy said, has effectively been investigating itself. The former Goldman Sachs executive and one-time U.S. ambassador to Germany called for an independent audit of the legal fees Christie’s defense firm Gibson Dunn has billed to taxpayers.

“If he won’t allow an independent audit, Governor Christie should pay back taxpayers every penny he has squandered on this cover up,” Murphy said. “New Jersey’s taxpayers have no confidence in an audit conducted by people who report to the governor.”

The firm has earned at least $8 million over the course of the investigation, which found no wrongdoing on the governor’s part. A digital forensics team earned $2.5 million.

“This entire, sorry episode is emblematic of an administration that serves to protect the special interests, not the people’s interests, and puts politics first,” Murphy continued. “New Jersey needs a governor who will have its back and actually cares about looking after all eight-million-plus residents of this state.”

A representative from the governor’s office was quick to refute the charge that the administration acted improperly. Pointing to Murphy’s similarities with former governor Jon Corzine, who served as the CEO of Goldman Sachs before serving in the U.S. Senate and then as governor, spokesman Brian Murray said the administration has followed all the proper procedures.

“If this Jon Corzine clone knew anything about the State of New Jersey, he would have realized there is already a very thorough process for the review of all government legal bills,” spokesman Brian Murray told NJ Advance Media.

“He is completely out of touch with reality and should go back to spending his Goldman Sachs millions on something that would help the people of New Jersey and not on his failure of a gubernatorial campaign,” Murray continued.

Those two Christie appointees — former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly and former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni — are going to trial in September for their roles in the plot. Murphy will face off against a long list of rivals for Democratic nomination, including Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.