Reid Schar, the lead prosecutor in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s case, has been tapped to head up the investigation into allegations of political payback under New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.
Schar, who left the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago and joined Jenner & Block, is serving as special counsel.
“We can confirm that the firm has been retained,” Phillip McGowan, global communications manager, tells the Chicago Sun-Times.
The work of the committee is already underway.
“The Assembly is set to meet at noon tomorrow to create the special committee, and then the committee will meet at 1 p.m. to determine its process for issuing subpoenas,” said Tom Hester, spokesman for the New Jersey Assembly Democratic Majority Office.
The special counsel was named after allegations surfaced that a top aide to Christie had orchestrated a traffic jam as political payback to a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie. Christie held a two-hour news conference last week, condemning the actions after firing the aide.
Schar was the lead prosecutor in the trial and retrial of disgraced Democratic Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years behind bars after he was convicted of attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. Schar also took part in the trial of political fund-raiser Tony Rezko and in the larger probe, Operation Board Games, that revealed attempted bribes and kickbacks were used in an attempt to influence decision-making on state boards.
“It’s vital to have someone of the caliber of Mr. Schar joining us in this effort,” New Jersey 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. I look forward to the assistance he will offer under the leadership of Chairman Wisniewski.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat who heads the transportation committee, launched the investigation into the lane closings that caused the traffic jam.