The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 24, 2014

Christie's campaign, NJ GOP face federal subpoenas

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie's re-election campaign and the New Jersey Republican Party have less than two weeks to comply with subpoenas from federal prosecutors investigating allegations of political payback.

Subpoenas to the Christie for Governor organization and the Republican State Committee were disclosed Thursday, the same day the Republican governor's campaign announced it had hired a Washington, D.C., law firm in the case.

The subpoenas from the U.S. attorney's office are evidence of an escalating criminal investigation into allegations that Christie's aides created traffic jams in a town with a mayor who's a Democratic adversary. Earlier in the month, Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said his office was reviewing the matter "to determine whether a federal law was implicated."

The federal subpoenas are due Feb. 5. A state legislative committee also is investigating. Its subpoenas for correspondence from 20 Christie associates and organizations are due Feb. 3.

Christie, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, was New Jersey's U.S. attorney before stepping down in late 2008 to run for governor.

Federal prosecutors refused to comment Thursday. Christie, in Camden to talk about a school dinner program, left without taking questions. The governor's office and re-election staff did not return messages seeking comment.

The governor's top political adviser, Bill Palatucci, said it's "wildly premature" to speculate on how the scandal will impact Christie's political future.

"Lots of folks in different states have seen similar situations, and their favorite politician gets through it," Palatucci said Thursday at a gathering of the Republican National Committee in Washington. "They all expect (Christie) to do well also."

The Republican Governors Association announced Thursday that Christie, who is chairman of the group this year, would be fundraising in Massachusetts, Texas, Utah and elsewhere in coming months. The release of a vague travel schedule followed a call from recent Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli that Christie resign from the post.

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