The legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures was intended to be a bipartisan effort, but there were plenty of partisan barbs when the panel’s interim report was released today. All of the Democrats on the committee voted to release the report but Republicans opposed it.
The co-chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex County), says the committee did the best it could without being able to question some key witnesses. Many
wanted immunity protections in return for talking but Wisniewski says they could not grant that while the U.S. Attorney investigates.
“This process and the facts it brought to light for the benefit of all residents of New Jersey may well serve as a great example, perhaps the greatest example, of legislative oversight in our state’s history,” he said.
Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex County) says the investigation did not shed much light.
“Instead I would venture say this SCI committee will go down as one of the most greatest and most expensive public finance failures on our state’s history,” O’Toole said.
Republican members of the committee issued their own report and are asking the New Jersey attorney general to investigate documents and information leaked to the media.
The report attacks Wisniewski, saying he hijacked the hearings in an attempt to hurt Gov. Chris Christie and advance his own political ambitions.
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth County) the expensive investigation failed to prove who ordered the bridge lane closures or why.
“If this committee is committed to continue its repetitive and directionless activities, those activities should be funded not by the taxpayers but by the Democratic State Committee,” she said.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen County), the co-chair of the special investigation committee, says there are still many unanswered questions, but says not getting to talk to key witnesses hamstrung the inquiry.
“We do not know what Governor Christie knew about the lane closures or when and how his knowledge of the events developed,” she said.
Over the weekend, WNBC-TV New York reported that criminal charges from the U.S. Attorney are expected early next year.