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State Assembly and Senate Vote To Empower GWB Investigation Committees

'We have a problem to fix,' John Wisniewski, the committee's chairman, said.

The state Assembly and Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to impanel two separate committees to investigate the George Washington Bridge scandal embroiling the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.

The lower house voted 75 to 0 on a resolution creating the Select Committee on Investigation – a 12-member panel charged with the ongoing probe of the September lane closures that gridlocked the town of Fort Lee for four days.

The vote came after a 40-minute discussion on the floor of the Assembly, where Republican members peppered John Wisniewski – the committee’s chairman – with questions about the process the committee will follow and repeatedly asked for assurances that the minority party would have full and equal access to the information gleaned.

“We have a problem to fix,’’ Wisniewski said prior to the vote.

Republicans, notably Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen/Passaic), criticized Democrats for hiring special counsel without any input from the minority party a day before the panel was convened. 

The panel is comprised of eight Democrats, including Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) and transportation committee head John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), who will chair the committee, as well as four Republicans.

In addition to Greenwald and Wisniewski, named to the committee are:

·         Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic);

·         Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris/Somerset);

·         Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris/Essex/Passaic);

·         Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth);

·         Gordon Johnson (B-Bergen);

·         Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden);

·         Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen/Passaic);

·         Linda Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset);

·         Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen);

·         Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).

On Wednesday, Assembly Democrats announced that former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar, of the New York-based law firm of Jenner & Block, has been tapped to be the investigatory committee’s legal counsel.

Schar was the lead investigator and prosecutor in Blagojevich’s corruption trials. The former Illinois governor is serving a 14-year federal sentence for corruption after he was found guilty of soliciting bribes for political appointments, including the 2008 vacant U.S. Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama, while he was governor.

common sense January 16, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Let me give you all a preview of ALL the testimony that will take place in front of this committee. "On advice of counsel, I plead the 5th". Yes, Ms Lerner did the same thing when she was questioned about the IRS and she was wrong to do it. It made her look guilty. It will make all those taking the 5th now look same. It will be up to the US Attorney in the end to get the real answers which we all want. We want the truth. We can handle the truth.
Clay Thomas January 16, 2014 at 04:03 PM
Who will be the "John Dean" of Christie's cabal? Stay classy Gov. Numbnuts!
Marlboro Mann January 16, 2014 at 04:46 PM
As soon as this news broke, Wiesnewski, Pallone, Buono and other Dems circled Christie like vultures for the kill. Now they even hired a high priced attorney to lead the investigation (at taxpayer expense). For their sake, this guy better find something or else their political careers will be in tatters having wasted good money on a witchhunt. Can't politicians in this wretched state ever play nice and for once address issues that impact everyone's health and economic well being?
Mac January 16, 2014 at 05:06 PM
@Marlboro Mann - politicians can only play by the standards set by the voters - one can't play nice when one is a Soprano State wiseguy and wishes to be reelected - and in NJ, traditions are everything - for the rest of America, apparently not so much
Marlboro Mann January 16, 2014 at 05:18 PM
Mac let me clarified your statement...........when one is a Soprano State wiseguy while his opponents are tax loving hacks in bed with the public employee unions.
Mac January 16, 2014 at 05:30 PM
@Marlboro Mann - given the choice of getting in bed with Gilmore and Norcross or the public employee unions, it's the public employee unions by a landslide - they give a little back to us
Adam January 16, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Here's a quiz of smart government: Who got us involved in not one, but two wars and didn't raise taxes? Wait, here's a even better question-what leader in the past two thousand years got their country involved in two wars and cut taxes (excluding Caligula)? This happened before the 2004 elections. Anyone who voted for that clown in 2004 really doesn't have any right to complain about runaway deficits or the growing national debt. It's tough to govern, but easy to win elections by saying "tax cuts, tax cut, here's a tax cut, there's a tax cut. What's I my pocket, why, a tax cut"
Mac January 16, 2014 at 09:33 PM
overpriced
B@B January 17, 2014 at 07:22 AM
@Marlboro man: And if the tables were turned, you don't think Christie would be going after Loretta Weinberg and others?
Jack B Goode January 17, 2014 at 08:27 AM
They already have the guilty parties, this overkill Witch hunt/Inquisition is over the top. We the taxpayers have to foot the bill. We all,know that the Port Authority sucks, why not go after them?
Adam January 17, 2014 at 10:29 AM
I agree about taxpayes footing the bill. What with the $12 million extra we had to pay when Christie set the Senate election three weeks before the General Election (to supress the Democratic vote), the $2 million extra for the Jersey Strong ads so we could all see Christies smiling face during the election; the $185K per year for the Port Authority position that Christie created for his high school chum Wildstein. Geeze, one must really be dissappointed in Christie for wasting a tremendous amount of taxpayer money.
Mac January 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM
In honor of Governor Christie and the State of New Jersey, the Super Bowl committee has decided to use orange cones this year as sideline markers.
PeterB January 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM
It sounds as if John Wisniewski who is the Executive Director of NJ Democratic State committee is getting some marching orders from DNC in DC. Will try and use this to get him some fame
Adam January 17, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Yes, the DNC must have contacted all of the Republicans in NJ and convinced them with lavish gifts and promises of not shutting down their respective roads to vote unanimously with Assembly and Senate Democrats to impanel the committees: "The state Assembly and Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to impanel two separate committees to investigate the George Washington Bridge scandal embroiling the administration of Gov. Chris Christie."
PeterB January 17, 2014 at 01:28 PM
@Adam - This investigation was brought on by Wisnieski. If you think the DNC isn't having any input on this then you are delusional. And by the way if anyone in the assembly didn't vote for it then it would be political suicide and used against them.
Adam January 17, 2014 at 01:47 PM
So the Republicans unanimously signed on to these committees because of politics and not because of the obvious abuse of power? Most of these representatives (Democrats and Republicans) got involved in politics for strongly held beliefs and convictons, and I have voted for representatives of both party's (including all of the Republicans in last Nov's New Milford elections). This is not a little blib or accident-it was a concerted effort to screw with tens of thousands of New jersey residents because they were perceived to be mostly supporters of a different positical party. It is also a crime. Sorry Peter, i have too much respect for our elected representatives, be they Republicans or Democrats, to take such a cynical view of why they unanimously voted for such an investigation.
Steve Alberts January 17, 2014 at 06:34 PM
What a waste of taxpayer money. Fix the "Pot holes" instead of wasting tax payers money on this investigation. Or feed the homeless.

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