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NJ Assembly Approves Creation of Special “Select Committee on Investigations” to Continue Leading GWB Inquiry

Prieto, Greenwald, Wisniewski Measure Will Expand Scope & Power of Investigation into Allegations of Public Safety Compromise & Abuse of Power

The New Jersey General Assembly convened a special session on Thursday to approve a resolution creating a “Select Committee on Investigations” charged with investigating concerns about the abuse of power at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and any attempts to conceal that abuse.

The resolution (AR-10) also grants the committee broad authority to investigate all aspects of the finances, operations, and management at the Port Authority including, but not limited to, the reassignment of access lanes in Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge.

The measure, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, was approved by a vote of __-__.

“Given that the documents and testimony we’ve received to date have raised many more questions, it’s not only fitting, but imperative, that we continue our investigation,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “I’m confident that the professionalism and experience of the members of this committee will lend itself to a thorough investigation.”

The 12-member, bipartisan committee will be chaired by Wisniewski who has led the investigation thus far as Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. The committee will also be comprised of Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic); Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris/Somerset); Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris/Essex/Passaic); Majority Leader Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington); 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); and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).

“Given all the unanswered questions we’ve encountered, the continued inquiry into this breach of public trust requires an intensified investigation with increased resources to help us uncover the answers that have thus far been withheld from us,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “I take the responsibility of serving on this select committee very seriously and I’m committed to seeking the answers that the public deserves.”

“Since we began this investigation, the scope has expanded far beyond just a transportation issue,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “It now involves questions surrounding the compromise of public safety and the abuse of power. I’m pleased that the Speaker has entrusted me to continue leading up this investigation into these serious allegations.”

Providing special legal counsel to the committee will be former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar who was the lead investigator and prosecutor in both corruption trials of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Chief among the powers conferred on the committee through the resolution are the ability:

  • to issue subpoenas to compel attendance and testimony and the production of books, papers, correspondence, other documents and materials, and electronic records and data;
  • to hold hearings, take testimony under oath, and receive documentary or physical evidence;
  • to convene a meeting or hearing to determine the adequacy of the return and rule on the objection if a return on a subpoena or order for the production of documentary evidence is incomplete or accompanied by an objection;
  • to make findings and reports to the General Assembly of any recommendations;
  • to hold the Port Authority in contempt of the committee; and
  • to respond to any judicial or other process, or to make application to the courts of this state, any other state, or the United States.

The resolution, and the powers it authorizes, expires at noon on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, which is the end of the new legislative session that began this week.