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Will Bridgegate Investigative Committee Be Bipartisan? [AUDIO]

On Monday, the full New Jersey Senate and General Assembly voted unanimously to create a single 12-member committee to investigate unannounced George Washington Bridge access lane closures that led to massive traffic jams in Fort Lee in September. That spirit of bipartisanship was nowhere to be found 30 minutes later, when the panel convened its first hearing.

NJ Legislature
New Jersey Legislature (Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office)

“They label this committee as bipartisan and yet the committee is stacked two-to-one for one party, both co-chairs are from the other party,” said temporary committee member and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Brick). “Only the chairs get to decide who issues subpoenas. Only the chairs get to decide when documents can be reviewed. That doesn’t seem very fair to me.”

Democrats on the panel said it would make no sense to orchestrate any sort of partisan witch hunt.

“The eyes of the nation are looking at this every day and that would come with its own set of consequences — the fear or the specter that this committee will abuse its power (is) very unlikely,” said Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees). “This body is made up of a majority of Democrats. The governor’s office is ruled by the Republican Party. There is a balance of power.”

The New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigations will combine the efforts of the Assembly and Senate to investigate questions surrounding the decision to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge and other matters raising concerns about the abuse of government power.

The bipartisan, bicameral committee will now be co-chaired by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who has led the investigation thus far as chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck).

The 20 subpoenas issued by the Assembly’s investigatory committee remain pending and have been re-issued by the new committee. Those subpoenas seek documents and other materials by Feb. 3.

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