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Sunday, July 22, 2018

HACKENSACK, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office has agreed to pay a high-powered attorney $650 per hour to represent it in a series of investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

That’s more than a 40 percent discount off attorney Randy Mastro’s normal rate, he wrote in a letter to state officials, and 20 percent less than the average amount charged by attorneys at the New York office of his firm, Gibson Dunn.

The terms of Mastro’s agreement were laid out in documents released by the governor’s office late Thursday in response to a public records request. A retention letter states that Mastro will help Christie’s office in several ways — including producing documents in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The reference to producing documents for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is the clearest indication that Christie’s office either has received, or anticipates receiving, a subpoena from federal prosecutors looking into whether a crime was committed. The state Republican Party and Christie’s re-election campaign confirmed earlier this month that they had received federal subpoenas but there has been no public confirmation of others.

Several people within Christie’s inner circle have also received subpoenas for documents by a joint legislative panel investigating the lane closures. The responses to those subpoenas are due on Monday. The attorney advising the investigative legislative panel, former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, is charging $350 per hour, also a discounted rate.

The biggest political crisis of Christie’s political career has also provided work for some of the biggest names in the region’s legal circles. Much of the cost is likely to be borne by taxpayers, although the Port Authority announced earlier this month that it would not pay the legal bills of the Christie ally and Port Authority executive who implemented the lane closures, David Wildstein.