(TRENTON) — Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg issued the following joint statement Tuesday on significant and numerous violations of New Jersey Attorney General guidelines by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and a third-party law firm, Stroz Friedberg.
The two firms were paid by the state for work related to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
A letter to the Attorney General’s Office, sent last week, details the violations and requests that the office seek reimbursement of all improper payments made by the state.
“The state has paid more than $10 million to two law firms for legal work related to the George Washington Bridge scandal. A detailed review by legislative counsel of information related to the retention of and billing practices by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Stroz Friedberg has uncovered significant and numerous violations of the Outside Counsel Guidelines that the firms and the Attorney General’s Office were required to abide by.
“These violations entitle the taxpayers to reimbursement of $2.8 million paid to the firms – $545,783 of which was paid to Gibson Dunn, and $2.3 million paid to Stroz Friedberg, which was obtained as a third-party firm through Gibson Dunn. We are asking the Attorney General to immediately seek repayment from these firms of the inordinate amount of taxpayer money paid in violation of the state’s own rules.
“We also have serious concerns regarding the impartiality and quality of the work carried out by the firms and are looking into whether it met acceptable legal standards. This issue was highlighted by a federal court decision issued in December in the case involving two defendants in the George Washington Bridge matter. To quote Judge Wigenton: ‘The taxpayers of the State of New Jersey paid GDC millions of dollars to conduct a transparent and thorough investigation. What they got instead was opacity and gamesmanship. They deserve better.’
“We agree and will continue to examine this issue. It is unacceptable that the taxpayers of New Jersey have been forced to foot the bill for work that was not only of questionable quality but that clearly violated the state’s own guidelines and practices.”