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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.

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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