Bridgegate legistative committee releases interim report
TRENTON (AP) -- The Democrat-controlled committee probing whether Republican Gov. Chris Christie had any connection to the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge has voted along party lines to release an interim report on the investigation.
The vote approving the release of the report comes as Republicans assail the committee's work and after the contents of the report were leaked in the media last week.
Republican lawmakers are presenting New Jersey's attorney general with what they say are possible legal violations related to the investigation.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski says Republicans are unhappy with the report and came up with a distraction.
The report says there is no conclusive evidence showing Christie played a role in the scheme to close lanes or knew about it as it happened.
“Not a single shred of evidence has been uncovered by this committee linking Gov. Christie to those lane reassignments. What we have here is a runway committee perhaps driven by an agenda not rooted in determining the truth, but rather by blind political ambition,” said State Se. Kevin O’Toole (R-Wayne).
Republicans lawmakers on Monday accused Democrats of unlawfully leaking documents during the legislative probe into the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge and cast the committee's work as overtly political.
The four Republican members of the Democrat-led legislative panel probing GOP Gov. Chris Christie's connection to the traffic jams unveiled their own 119-page report Monday, just before the panel approved releasing the group's report to the public.
"Legislative Select Committee co-chairs John Wisniewski and Loretta Weinberg pushed the boundaries to advance their own political ambitions and what can be characterized as the dream agenda of national Democrats: to tarnish a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate," the Republicans said.
Wisniewski said Republicans were unhappy about the report "so they came up with a distraction."
"They're going to accuse just about everybody on the committee of having some taint or some disqualification to try to distract attention away from the facts," Wisniewski said.
"There is nothing in this report that has been manufactured by anybody," Weinberg said. "The report stands for itself and to answer it with a personal attack on members of this committee without discussing what they want to refute, if anything, in the report was clearly in my opinion inappropriate."
Republicans say confidential documents and information was routinely leaked to the media and "destroyed the credibility of the committee and its ability to carry out fair proceedings." Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, obtained the legislative committee's report last week after it was released to lawmakers.
The GOP lawmakers said that they are turning their report over to the state attorney general and that lawmakers on the panel may have violated laws during the investigation.
At the start of the hearing, Wisniewski called the 12-member committee's interim report a "shining example" of legislative oversight.
“The legislature has done all it could at this point to find answers to how this abuse happened and stands ready to continue its work when more witnesses and information become available, said Wisniewski (D-Sayreville). “The committee is not in a position to currently conclude what the governor himself knew about the lane closures or when and how his knowledge of those events developed.”
That report says no evidence has been found showing Christie played a role in the scheme to close lanes or that he knew about it as it happened. Supporters of the governor say the report clears him, while his opponents say it shows a lack of curiosity about how his administration is run.
It's not likely to be the final word on the matter. The U.S. attorney also is conducting an investigation.
- O’Toole flips on Wisniewski at SCI hearing: ‘This is America’ / PolitickerNJ
- Republicans on N.J. bridge scandal panel blast Democrats in new report / NJ.com
Kevin McArdle contributed to this report
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