TRENTON, N.J., April 21 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's campaign organization owes more money to lawyers for the "Bridgegate" scandal than it has in the bank, the campaign reports.
Chris Christie for Governor filed financial disclosure forms Monday that showed a total of $314,000 in bills from Patton Boggs, a major law firm in Washington, and Stroz Friedberg, a legal investigation firm.
The governor also got some good news Monday. The Mother's Day/Father's Day Council announced Christie is a 2014 Father of the Year, along with shoe designer Vince Camuto.
Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, have four children. The youngest is 10 and the oldest, Andrew, 20, is a student at Princeton University, where he is on the baseball team.
The Christie campaign reported less than $160,000 on hand and listed $264,000 in legal fees as debts. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission said in February that Patton Boggs could be paid out of campaign funds as long as the campaign itself is not the target of a grand jury investigation.
Christie was considered a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 after he won a second term in New Jersey last year with more than 60 percent of the vote. But the bridge scandal erupted in January, disrupting his administration and tarnishing his reputation.
Christie appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey allegedly closed several approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September as an act of political payback. The closing caused massive traffic jams for four days in Fort Lee, N.J., where the Democratic mayor had refused to endorse Christie.
Another Democrat, Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, says she was warned the city, which was mostly underwater after Hurricane Sandy, would be denied aid unless she backed a development project favored by Christie.
New Jersey taxpayers are expected to pay well over a million dollars for an internal review of the scandal that exonerated Christie and was carried out by a New York law firm. Taxpayers are also expected to pay legal fees for several current and former state employees.
The scandal is now being investigated by a state legislative committee and by Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
[Wall Street Journal]
[Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger]