N.J. Assembly committee issues 20 subpoenas in lane closure investigation

A newly created legislative committee looking into the George Washington Bridge lane closures sent out 20 subpoenas Thursday. 

 John Wisniewski, who heads the Select Committee on Investigations in the New Jersey Assembly, said the 20 subpoenas cover 17 individuals and three groups mentioned in recently released documents. Two people expected to be called are aide Bridget Anne Kelly, whom Gov. Chris Christie fired, and former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien.

The emails and texts were obtained when Wisniewski was leading an investigation, as chairman of the Assembly  Transportation Committee, and uncovered evidence that showed an aide from Gov. Chris Christie’s office directing a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official to intentionally create a traffic jam in Fort Lee. From Sept. 9 to13, the lanes were reduced from three to one for drivers trying to get on the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee creating massive backups. 

Wisniewski would not disclose the names of those subpoenaed during committee’s first hearing.

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“I don’t think it’s fair for people to find out because of your reporting that they’re going to receive a subpoena,” he said. “We’d like to get them served first, and as soon as the subpoenas are served, we’re going to make it know who those individuals were and make the actual text of the subpoena available.”

He said he hopes more emails and other documents might clear up two big questions.

“We know who sent out the request to close those lanes. We know who received it,” Wisniewski said. “We don’t know why it was sent. We don’t know who gave that person the authorization to send it.”

In the New Jersey Senate, a special committee also was authorized to find answers. Sen. Loretta Weinberg will chair the new Select Committee on Investigation. The seven-member, bipartisan panel will also have subpoena power.

Weinberg, whose district includes Fort Lee, said it’s time for some answers.

“We will conduct an aggressive investigation with an open mind,” she said. “We won’t jump to any conclusions but we intend to get to the bottom of this.”

Weinberg, who worked cooperatively with Wisniewski on the early hearings by the Assembly Transportation Committee, said the two legislative panels now investigating the case will coordinate their efforts in order to maximize the effectiveness of the investigation.

To date, no testimony or documents show that Christie was directly involved or was aware that the traffic jams created in September were orchestrated. Christie is considered a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate. 

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