Corruption Investigation Not Targeting Christie, Feds Say
But former and current members of his administration are being looked at.
— -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, under scrutiny because of a 2013 traffic controversy, is not the target of a new inquiry into possible corruption, the Garden State's top federal law enforcement official said.
"Any characterization that we are investigating the governor about this is just not true," said Matt Reilly, a spokesman for New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. "We talk to people all the time. It doesn't mean we're investigating anybody."
The probe, however, is examining the conduct of other current and former members of Christie's gubernatorial administration, sources familiar with the investigation said.
Christie's spokesman today declined to comment.
Now in his second term as governor, Christie is openly considering whether to embark on a run for the GOP presidential nomination.
The newest round of bad headlines for Christie came Thursday after it was confirmed by ABC News and others that a former county prosecutor in New Jersey had been interviewed by federal agents looking at claims that political considerations led state officials to dismiss indictments against political allies of the governor.
Ben Barlyn, a former senior assistant prosecutor in Hunterdon County in Western New Jersey, who is suing the Christie administration, said he provided investigators with names of others who would corroborate his account.
Barlyn was dismissed from his job in September 2010 and later brought a whistleblower case against the Christie administration that currently is in the discovery phase. He has consistently said he was fired for objecting to the quashing of indictments against the county's sheriff and two subordinates -- all political supporters of Christie's.
The governor's office previously has dismissed the accusations as being "conspiratorial nonsense."
State officials have repeatedly denied Barlyn's accusations and, in court filings, they said that the decision to dismiss the indictment was within the discretion of New Jersey's top law-enforcement officials. They have argued Barlyn has no case and doesn't even have the right to sue under state law.
The federal agents are trying to determine why Christie's then-attorney general, Paula Dow, dismissed the indictments.
Dow has rejected Barlyn's accusations, saying the indictment was flawed and Barlyn was fired for legitimate reasons.
Barlyn's meeting with investigators follows an April letter Barlyn wrote to the U.S. attorney, telling him "we have no recourse left at the state level to expose this administration's serious breach of the public trust."
In June, Fishman wrote to Barlyn asking him to be in touch with his office about the case, Barlyn said.
Sources tell ABC News this new inquiry is still in the early stages and it remains unclear whether any charges could ever be pursued.
Fishman is also investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal that has jeopardized the governor's political future.
The Christie administration is also being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the Port Authority inspector general and a state legislative committee that is part of the Democratic-controlled New Jersey State Legislature.
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