Committee to Have Subpoena Power & Special Counsel
New Jersey Assembly leadership on Monday announced Assemblyman John Wisniewski will lead a newly formed special investigatory committee that will have subpoena power, utilize a special counsel and focus solely on investigating questions surrounding the decision to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.
.Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said they will appoint members under Wisniewski's leadership with legal and investigatory backgrounds, along with members from the region most impacted by the September lane closings.
They also intend to supply the committee with a special counsel to help further its investigation.
"We have made great strides in finding out what actually happened here with this threat to public safety and abuse of power, but so many questions remain unanswered," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The evidence that has come out in recent weeks makes clear that this now goes above and beyond a transportation issue and goes into the highest ranks of the executive branch. A concerted and focused investigation with increased resources is now needed, and I look forward to continuing to uncover answers for the people of New Jersey with these new tools at hand. This investigation will continue with increased intensity.”
"As the evidence in the case has unfolded, it's become clear the questions that need answering here are no longer just transportation questions," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "They are now much bigger than that, and we need a super committee led by Asm. Wisniewski armed with the resources he needs to build upon his progress and ensure all questions are answered. My intention as Speaker is to ensure a comprehensive and focused effort that leaves no stone unturned, and with what we now know, this super investigatory committee is the best way to get it done."
"The people of New Jersey deserve answers to the questions surrounding this issue, and a newly formed special investigatory committee focused only on this issue is the responsible approach," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "Asm. Wisniewski has done outstanding work, and I am thrilled he will continue leading this effort, only now with a sole focus on getting answers to these questions and enough resources to cover all ground. The evidence that has come out in recent days takes this to a new level and requires a ramped up effort, and that's what we're prepared to do with this special investigatory committee armed with the resources it needs."
The lawmakers noted it's not unprecedented in New Jersey to boost a committee's effort with a special counsel. In 2001, the Senate Judiciary Committee used a special counsel when it investigated the state's response to racial profiling in the state police.