Last week, Eric Lach of Talking Points Memo (TPM) reported that Randy Mastro, the attorney that had been hired to represent the office of Chris Christie of New Jersey, had asked officials in both Fort Lee and Hoboken “to turn over records of their interactions with reporters covering the multiple Christie scandals.” Mastro is using “the state’s open records law to get the purported victims of Christie’s office to turn over documents” to his legal team.
Randy Mastro, the high-priced defense attorney retained by Christie’s office, on Monday filed an open records request with the borough of Fort Lee, the town affected in September by the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Mastro’s request, which was obtained by TPM, asks for all documents and correspondence held by Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and his staff related to the lane closures (which the request calls a “toll/lane realignment”), endorsements of Christie, meetings with members of Christie’s re-election campaign, and the topic of access lanes to the bridge, generally. It also requests “all documents that Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich or members of his staff provided to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or other local or national print, internet, or television media since September 1, 2013 through the Present, regarding any of the above subjects.” Fort Lee officials are currently reviewing the records request.
Lach said that Mastro had been hired “to help Christie’s office produce documents for the multiple investigations into the lane closures”—but was also “helping the governor’s office with its internal review of the incident.” In addition, Mastro has gotten himself involved with the allegations made by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Christie’s administration had threatened “to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief aid if she did not support a development project in her city.” According to Shawn Boburg (NorthJersey), Mastro and his legal team “requested a private interview with Zimmer, as well as copies of the documents that Zimmer provided to federal investigators.”
Yesterday, Josh Marshall, editor of TPM, posted an article about how Chris Christie was attempting “to innovate new levels of sleazy power plays and weirdness” into New Jersey Politics. Marshall said that Mastro’s law firm—which is in reality working for Christie—“is using public transparency laws to find out what Christie’s enemies have told the press about him. Or to put it differently, open records laws intended to let people know what the government knows are being used by the government to find out what the people – or more specifically, more junior elected officials and journalists – know about it. That’s amazing.”
And now—in addition to interviewing the mayor of Hoboken, Mastro’s team wants to interview Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Sokolich has declined the request for an interview.
… But something seems very wrong here. The Governor appears to be using public money to wage it’s [sic] own opposition research effort against his purported victims, the people the retaliation was allegedly meted out against. That would be hardball but not that odd if Christie was paying for these lawyers. But it appears the State of New Jersey is. I don’t know why this isn’t generating more of an uproar.
Something does seem very wrong…indeed!
New Heights for the Big Sleazy (Talking Points Memo)
Christie Lawyer Trying To Find Out What Reporters Have On The Governor (Talking Points Memo)