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Tempers Flare at Bridgegate Hearing

Tempers flared during Tuesday’s third hearing of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation, charged with probing the Bridgegate scandal. 

New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation
New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation meeting on April 8, 2014 (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media)

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), the panel’s co-chair gave an opening statement and was followed by a Republican member who pushed the panel to consider reforms to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That led to a heated exchange, but not before Wisniewski brought the committee up-to-date.

“It’s only because of the meticulous work that was patiently done that we followed the evidence that led us into the governor’s office,” Wisniewski said. “Having arrived there it would be a disservice to ourselves and to the people of this state if we did not pursue this investigation to its conclusion.

According to Wisniewski, many questions remain unanswered in the Bridgegate scandal; Why were access lanes closed in Fort Lee leading to the George Washington Bridge? How far does the scandal go? Who was the chief culprit?

A report released last month detailing the Christie administration’s internal investigation into Bridgegate places the blame for the controversial lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and an ensuing coverup entirely on former Port Authority official David Wildstein and former Christie aide Bridget Kelly.
Randy Mastro, lead attorney for the internal investigation, said Kelly, who was fired as Christie’s deputy chief of staff, “consciously tried to cover up” her involvement in the scheme, even going so far as to ask another staffer to delete an incriminating email she had sent.

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Belford) wanted the committee to consider legislation to reform the Port Authority. Wisniewski dismissed that and accused her of showboating. State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Wayne) then defended Handlin and got into a heated back and forth with Wisniewski before the panel retreated to a closed door session.

The SCI did not issue any subpoenas Tuesday, but the co-chairs said that the committee has given the law firm that conducted the Christie’s administration’s internal investigation until Friday to produce documents related to that probe. If the information is not provided, a new subpoena could be issued to either the law firm Gibson-Dunn or Gov. Chris Christie’s office.

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