By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
The lawyer next to Kevin O’Dowd yesterday was former first assistant attorney general Paul Zoubek.
The state will pick up his bill.
Behind them sat Bill Stepien and his attorney Kevin Marino, who billed the state $443,000 so far, of which the state agreed to pay $175,000.
The Attorney General’s Office is paying $340 an hour to attorneys at seven firms representing 23 individuals.
The Port Authority says it has paid $210,000 so far to lawyers representing 15 people.
Attorney Reid Schaar, hired by legislative Democrats as counsel to the investigative committee, has billed the Office of Legislative Services $725,000 through March.
And yesterday, the law firm of Randy Mastro–Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher–which represents the Governor’s Office in all this submitted its bill for February–$2.16 million.
On top of $1.1 million in January, that’s $3.26 million dollars for the two months before it issued any reports.
“Well, it’s certainly a lot of money, but the question is, what is the price of truth? The simple answer to this is that if the administration had run it’s priorities correctly and not allow this abuse of power to happen, nobody would be spending any money,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski.
Some other interesting tidbits about the legal fees connected to the bridge investigations.
David Wildstein asked the Port Authority to indemnify him for the cost of his lawyer Alan Zegas, but the Port Authority declined.
David Samson, the former Port Authority chairman, has a legal team headed by high-wattage attorneys Michael Chertoff and Angelo Geneva and has not asked the Port Authority for indemnification.
The state will pay Kevin Marino for the portion of time Stepien worked in the governor’s office but not for Stepien’s time on the campaign.
And well-known defense attorney Michael Critchley has asked the state to indemnify Bridget Kelly, but so far has gotten no satisfactory response.
And that’s just the state investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office is conducting a federal grand Jury investigation, as well. So if it’s any solace, U.S. taxpayers are helping New Jersey taxpayers get to the bottom of all this.
Some think it was the governor’s strategy to spend big, early.
“There certainly could be a suspicion that a theory, spend as much as you can as quickly as you can and price everybody else out of the market for truth. Have everybody blanch at an further expenditures and therefore you’re the only person with a published explanation of what’s happened,” said Wisniewski.
Wisniewski says his committee’s search for truth will resume after July 4th.