‘Finish line’ in sight for Legislature’s Bridgegate probe?
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, appearing on New Jersey 101.5 FM Monday morning, said a joint legislative committee investigation of the Bridgegate scandal is getting close to "wrapping up."
"I think they're focusing on wrapping up this investigation right now," Sweeney said. "There's a few more people they want to talk to. And then they're going to produce, from my understanding, some reports."
Sweeney said, "We're coming to the end of it and it's time for us to come up with some conclusions and more forward." Asked by Townsquare's Eric Scott for a more specific timeframe, Sweeney said Sen. Loretta Weinberg, co-chair of the legislature's Select Committee on Investigation, told him "by the end of summer."
The joint committee has been studying documents and hearing witnesses for several months, in its review of last September's controversial closing of lanes approaching the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee. Emails, text messages and testimony from several witnesses have pointed to political retribution as a motivation for the closings.
Key Port Authority and Christie administration figures have been fired or stepped down and the U.S. Attorney's office has reportedly been presenting evidence to a federal grand jury.
Asked about Sweeney's comments, the committee's other co-chair, Assemb. John Wisniewski, said, “We are a lot closer to the finish line than we were when we started, but we’re not there yet.”
Wisniewski, (D-Sayreville), chairman of the Select Committee on Investigation said, “We have a meeting scheduled for July 8 at which time we intend to take additional testimony and we have other folks that we intend to take testimony from during the remainder of July.”
“The fundamental question that needs to be answered is how can this abuse of power have been condoned and allowed to happen in the governor’s office right under the nose of the very people whose job it was to make sure abuses of power didn’t happen?” Wisniewski said. “We intend to continue to investigate so that we can get those answers because we have to recognize that this abuse of power stems from the governor’s office.”
An investigation conducted by a law firm hired to represent the governor's office supported Gov. Christie's assertions that he had no advance knowledge or involvement in the lane closings.
Asked Monday whether the legislative panel's eventual reports will include reform recommendations for the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York, Sweeney said, "They need to. . . after what we've seen here."
Kevin McCardle also contributed to this report.