Key Bridgegate Figure Surfaces for Hearing [POLL/AUDIO]
In January, Gov. Chris Christie fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly after a Bridgegate email she apparently sent was made public: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Kelly has been out of the public eye ever since, but showed up for a court hearing Tuesday even though she was not required to attend.
At the hearing, attorneys for Kelly and Christie’s two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepien, argued that their clients should not be required to turn over subpoenaed documents to the legislative panel probing Bridgegate. The lawyers claim doing so would violate their clients’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The judge did not issue a ruling.
Following the hearing, Kelly appeared to be fighting back tears as her lawyer Michael Critchley fielded questions from dozens of swarming reporters. Critchley made it clear his client would not be answering questions, but he was asked why she showed up in person.
“Because her life has been affected dramatically and today the court was going to discuss an issue of significance that affected her life, and she wanted to be here to show that she felt it was important for hearing and seeing, and that she’s not someone who is running away living the life of a hermit,” Critchley said. “She’s a 42-year-old single mom with four children trying to make due in a difficult time. She’s unemployed, doing her best to try and seek employment.”
Before the scandal engulfed Stepien, he was tapped to head the Republican State Committee and do consulting work for the Republican Governors Association. Christie put an end to both job prospects. Asked why Stepien did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, his attorney Kevin Marino responded.
“Mr. Stepien did not wish to be here today,” Marino said, “and frankly, this is a legal argument; not a trial, not a matter at which the court required his presence and I respect his decision not to be here today.”