Special N.J. legislative panel to continue ‘Bridgegate’ probe

A special bipartisan committee will be formed in the New Jersey Assembly to focus on the George Washington Bridge scandal.

 

The new Assembly committee, to be led by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, will have subpoena power and will utilize an outside counsel who has not yet been selected.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg wanted it to be a joint legislative panel, but Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto rejected that request.

“I thought it would be better served that we continue what we were doing to just make sure that all the work we already had done we could just expand from there,” said Prieto, D-Hudson.

A joint committee could have brought more resources and expertise to the table, said Weinberg, D-Bergen.

“Two separate committees just means that we’ll be doing more work, but the most important thing is for is to get to the bottom or what went on here,” she said Monday.

As the new legislative session begins, the Senate is expected to create its own committee that would also have subpoena power to examine who was involved in the abuse of power.

In the meantime, Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, has referred the contempt charges brought by his committee Thursday against former Port Authority employee David Wildstein to the Mercer County prosecutor’s office.

Wildstein resigned before the release last week of emails that indicate the bridge closing was political retribution. In one exchange, Christie’s former assistant chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” to which Wildstein replied, “Got it.”

Kelly has been fired.

Invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, Wildstein refused to answer most of the questions the committee put to him last week.

In a letter sent to Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini, Wisniewski included, among other things, a record of the committee’s motion to hold Wildstein in contempt of the committee, a transcript of the meeting and a copy of the state statute providing that such contempt constitutes a misdemeanor.

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