N.J. lawmakers merge Christie bridge probes
January 27th, 2014
05:25 PM ET
7 months ago

N.J. lawmakers merge Christie bridge probes

(CNN) - New Jersey state lawmakers voted on Monday to create a bipartisan committee to investigate the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that has rocked the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

The 12-member select committee on investigation is comprised of eight Democrats and four Republicans from the state Senate and Assembly.

Until now, separate committees from each chamber had been looking into suggestions top Christie advisers had orchestrated traffic gridlock last September in Fort Lee by closing access lanes to the bridge to punish that town's mayor for not endorsing Christie for reelection.

The state Assembly panel issued subpoenas earlier this month to current and former advisers for documents and other materials. The new committee will reissue those subpoenas with the same February 3 deadline for compliance.

Separately, the U.S. Attorney's office in Newark has also issued subpoenas to political groups associated with Christie as part of its preliminary review of the matter.

So far, federal prosecutors have not established any proof of a crime, two people familiar with the matter told CNN last week.

Christie has denied knowledge of any politically motivated scheme.

It's unclear whether the new committee will expand its investigation to include recent allegations of political strong arm tactics by top state officials.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno last May conditioned Superstorm Sandy aid for Hoboken on her support for a redevelopment project backed by Christie and proposed by a firm with ties to the governor. Zimmer, a Democrat, made a similar accusation against another official.

Guadagno firmly denied the allegation.

"We can't predict where the investigation will go," Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has led the state legislative investigation to date, said at Monday's session.

"This committee's charge is to continue the work started by the Assembly transportation committee," which he chairs.

At the new committee's first meeting, questions were raised about whether Democrats would try to link the Fort Lee lane closures with Zimmer's allegation, which Fishman's office is also examining.

"I'm not going to make any guesses on what would lead us to Hoboken or in any other town in the state of New Jersey," Sen. Loretta Weinberg, the committee's co-chair.

"We're starting this inquiry looking at the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. I don't know what those documents will show," she said.

Responding to criticism from some New Jersey Republicans that the investigation amounts to a political witch hunt, Wisniewski said nothing was predetermined.

"There is a healthy dose of skepticism, which we should have. But we're looking at answers to a very fundamental question – how somebody in the governor's office felt it was okay to do this and who gave them that authority," he said.

No new subpoenas were issued at Monday's meeting. Members voted along party lines to activate the committee for two years.

CNN's Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Chris Frates contributed to this story.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Things are great in the Garden State!

    January 27, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Christie sure is laying low hoping it will all blow over.

    January 27, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |