The Assembly committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal will issue 20 subpoenas to amass documents and information connected to the September lane closures, the head of the committee said Thursday.
The 12-member bipartisan committee headed by Jon Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, was impaneled just hours before by a unanimous vote of the General Assembly. It is charged with investigating the September lane closures that gridlocked Fort Lee for nearly a week.
Wisniewski told reporters that the names of at least some of those subpoenaed could be released as early as Friday, but that the committee had agreed not to release the names of 17 individuals and 3 organizations on the committee’s list until after they were served.
Wisniewski said the committee at first would be looking for documents relating to the lane closure scandal that has resulted in the firing of one of Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle and implicated another. Testimony, Wisniewski said, would come later.
“We’re going to follow this trail wherever it leads us,’’ he said.
Following its authorization by the General Assembly, the panel met Thursday afternoon to vote on a resolution outlining its operating procedure.
The four Republicans on the committee objected to the resolution, saying it gave Wisniewski too wide a berth.
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen/Passaic) peppered Wisniewski with questions about his ability to subpoena without committee consent and other queries about his authority to act independently of the committee.
Wisniewski several times said that the operating procedure was identical to that which governs the transportation committee that first took up the investigation into the lane closures, an investigation that lead into Christie’s office.
Schepisi offered an amendment to the operating resolution that would have reined in the chairman’s powers. It was defeated 8-4 along partisan lines.
The vote to approve the committee’s operating procedure was approved 8-3, also along partisan lines. Committee member Amy Handlin (D-Monmouth) abstained from the vote.
“I don’t know what happened in the last hour between the floor of the Assembly and here, but wit the first act and the first motion, I’m not impressed,’’ said Assemblyman Gregory McGukin, R-Ocean, who addressed reporters while the committee was in executive session.
The committee is not expected to meet again until mid-February, Wisniewski said, which will be after those subpoenaed are required to respond.