Bridgegate Subpoenas Out, Wildstein Shops for Immunity [POLL/AUDIO]
The legislative supercommittee created to get to the bottom of Bridgegate has issued 20 subpoenas to individuals and organizations believed to have more information about the George Washington Bridge lane closures that caused traffic chaos last summer.
Committee chairman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) indicated the names of those subpoenaed would not be made public until everyone had been officially notified.
"The initial wave of subpoenas are asking for information and documents rather than testimony," Wisniewski said. "Let's get the material that's relevant, that will inform our questions for the individuals who we may ultimately want to bring in here."
Meanwhile, David Wildstein, a central figure in the controversy, was signalling through his attorney that he is ready to testify if he can get immunity from criminal prosecution. It was Wildstein who put Bridgegate in hyper-drive by supplying Wisniewski's Assembly Transportation committee with Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly's email saying it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." That email, and his reply --"Got it"-- are being scrutinized as evidence that the lane closings were part of a planned political retaliation by Christie's inner circle.
"If he has immunity from the relevant entities, he'll talk," Wildstein's lawyer Alan Zegas told The Associated Press Friday. Zegas said the U.S. Attorney's Office is reviewing Wildstein's offer. Appearing before the transportation committee last week, Wildstein invoked his right to decline testifying without such immunity.
Within minutes after the Assembly's new "super investigative committee" met for the first time Thursday, Republican members of the panel began complaining that they had not been consulted about hiring Reid Schar, the special counsel who will work with the panel. Schar, a former federal prosecutor, helped convict former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich of corruption.
They were also unhappy that Wisniewski, a Democrat, was given complete subpoena power. The GOP panelists questioned whether he was keeping them in the loop about what actions he was taking.
At one point, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Red Bank) even got into an argument with Wisniewski.
Eventually the bickering did stop, and the committee went into executive session.
Afterwards, Chairman Wisniewski said even though 20 subpoenas have been issued, several may have limits.
"It is entirely possible that on some of those subpoenas, the material will come back and there will be absolutely no reason to go any further or ask any more questions," he said. "It's a fair process to ask for the documents first and not bring them in here to ask questions, perhaps without any foundation; this gives us an ability to narrow the scope as we have."
Wisniewski speculated that the investigation might only take 90 days to complete.
"If that were possible, that would be great," Wisniewski said. "It's also entirely possible we could to the end of two years and not have all the answers. I just don't know, we're going to follow this where it goes and take it step by step."
Wisniewski also indicated it may take until early February to get the documents that have been requested.
"We have raised questions about a number of people that we've identified as to what they knew and what their connection was," the chairman said. "Some of it is seemingly random -- what we're really looking at is the 'why.' We've been looking at several thousand pages of documents, and that's led us to want to ask several people questions. We want to ask all of the right questions to all of the right people."
"Right now, there is no intention to subpoena the governor," Wisniewski said. "We've seen nothing in the documents that has an email from the governor, to the governor, we've not seen any direct link. We're going to follow the leads we have, and when we have leads that are relevant we'll follow them -- we don't have any that take us in that direction right now."
Here's the list of those subpoenaed:
Office of the Governor
Bridget Anne Kelly
Christie for Governor, Inc