Denied key information, panel probing N.J. bridge scandal uncertain about next step

A day after New Jersey judge decided not to force two key witnesses to turn over subpoenaed documents, the next moves by legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal are uncertain.

Democrat John Wisniewski, the co-chairman of the committee, said Thursday he wants to continue the investigation into the bridge lane closures that caused four days of traffic gridlock on the world’s busiest bridge.

The closings were ordered from within the Christie administration as an apparent political payback, and Wisniewski said he wants to keep looking for ways to prevent any future abuse of government power.

But Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick questioned whether it’s worth the expense to continue calling witnesses to testify before the committee while the U.S. Attorney is conducting his own investigation.

Lawmakers should focus now on passing legislation to reform the Port Authority, which oversees the bridge operations, said Bramnick, R-Union.

“At some point in the future, when the other investigations are completed if there’s more work to do, do it,” he said. “But at this point in time, to spend more money on politics versus policy doesn’t make any sense to me.”

There seems to be a push to continue to investigate the Christie administration, but he says that’s a job for prosecutors, Bramnick said, adding that the investigative committee was created to establish policy, and that’s what it should do.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson Wednesday ruled that Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Stepien, both formerly part of Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle, did not have to turn over documents they said would jeopardize their Fifth Amendment rights.

An internal review of the scandal commissioned by Christie exonerated the governor of any part in ordering the lanes closed in September.

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