Lawmakers Tap Jenner Partner for Christie Bridge Probe
Jenner & Block partner and former federal prosecutor Reid Schar has been retained to serve as outside counsel to a New Jersey General Assembly committee investigating the role Gov. Chris Christie and his staff members played in creating a four-day traffic snarl by ordering the closing of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge.
Schar, the cochair of Jenner's white-collar defense and investigations practice, is well-versed in politically tinged scandals. As an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, he served as the lead prosecutor in both corruption trials involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich, who was sentenced in 2011 to 14 years in prison.
Schar, whose hire was announced Wednesday in a press release issued by assembly Democrats, joined Jenner's Chicago office in July 2012 after 14 years as a prosecutor. He did not immediately return a call for comment.
The Record reports that the committee that Schar will assist in his capacity as special counsel will be formed Thursday with the power to issue subpoenas to members of the Christie administration and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials and staffers. Committee chair John Wisniewski, a Democrat, said Wednesday that Schar will be paid at "a significant reduction" to his hourly rate, the Record reports.
According to sibling publication The National Law Journal's latest billing survey, Jenner partners charge an average of $604 per hour, with a high of $925.
"It's vital to have someone of the caliber of Mr. Schar joining us in this effort," assembly speaker Vincent Prieto said in a statement. "A potential misuse of taxpayer resources for political purposes is a serious matter that requires an astute legal eye with experience in this realm to help guide the process."
The so-called Bridgegate controversy has consumed the national news media for much of the past week, following the public release of hundreds of pages of documents that show Christie aides and allies orchestrating the closure of traffic lanes in Fort Lee last September in an apparent attempt to harm the town's mayor politically. So far, four people close to the governor have either resigned or been fired amid the mushrooming scandal.
At the time of Schar's move to Jenner, he told the NLJ that he had been experiencing some "intellectual complacency" and was looking forward to new challenges. A 1997 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, he worked for nine months at Sidley Austin before joining the U.S. attorney's office.