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Nothing in Bridgegate Would Surprise Me: Sweeney [AUDIO]

The top Democrat in the state legislature has been a close ally to Gov. Chris Christie since the latter took office, helping him usher in a property tax cap as well as public worker pension and health benefits reforms.

Senate President Steve Sweeney
Senate President Steve Sweeney (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

However, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) will not let his friendship with the governor stand in the way if the Bridgegate probe leads directly to Christie.

In a one-on-one interview in his Statehouse office, we asked Sweeney if he thinks the investigation will lead all the way up to Christie. The immediate follow-up was: would you be surprised if the probe led directly to the governor?

Sweeney answered candidly.

“I am not going to make any assumptions, it would be wrong for anyone to predetermine the outcome,” Sweeney said. “If it does lead to the governor, then he’s going to have to stand responsible to the people of this state for whatever actions that he had involved in it. I’m not ruling anything in or out, because so far I’ve been surprised that it actually reached his office.”

Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) have agreed to merge their efforts to investigate the unannounced closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September, and what they call the Christie administration’s possible abuse of power. The Democratic leaders announced Tuesday that they will combine two existing panels into one, 12-member supercommittee.

“If there was an abuse of power, whoever has been involved including the governor if the governor was involved, then they have to stand responsible to the people of the state of New Jersey,” Sweeney said. “Clearly there was an abuse of power. Where that will take us, this investigation will determine.”

In the interview, we also asked the Senate President if taking responsibility would mean the governor’s resignation.

“I’m not going to predetermine what the punishment would be, whether it’s criminal or it’s civil,” Sweeney said. “We are going to find out what it is and then whatever course of action we need to take, we will.”

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