- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey taxpayers will pay $340 per hour for law firms to represent some state employees as lawmakers and prosecutors investigate lane closures near the George Washington Bridge.

The state attorney general’s office released on Monday the names of five law firms that represent current or former state employees who have been or could be subpoenaed by a state legislative committee or the U.S. attorney’s office, both of which are investigating the closures. The office released retention agreements between the state and the law firms but redacted the names of the employees who are being represented, though some have already been publicly disclosed.

The law firms on the state payroll include those representing Bill Stepien, a former campaign director and aide to Gov. Chris Christie, but only for the time he was employed by the administration, until April 2013. Other lawyers are representing Christie press secretary Michael Drewniak and aide Christina Genovese Renna. Renna resigned this year.

The retention agreements note that the law firms of Henry Klingeman, who represents Renna; Kevin Marino, who represents Stepien, and Anthony Iacullo, who represents Drewniak, can bill the state for responding to subpoenas issued by lawmakers investigating the closures.

Agreements with Zaid Quraishi of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland Ferretti in Morristown and Westfield-based attorney Robert Stahl allow for reimbursement for fees incurred “in all pending legislative and United States inquiries and related matters.” The agreement doesn’t name who those firms are representing.

Taxpayers are also paying for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a law firm hired by Christie’s office that recently released a 344-page report that exonerated the governor from wrongdoing in the scandal and laid the blame on ex-deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly acting in concert with an official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Kelly was fired and Christie has cut ties with Stepien. The Port Authority official, David Wildstein, resigned along with Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee.