The state Assembly and Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to impanel two separate committees to investigate the George Washington Bridge scandal embroiling the administration of Gov. Chris Christie.
The lower house voted 75 to 0 on a resolution creating the Select Committee on Investigation – a 12-member panel charged with the ongoing probe of the September lane closures that gridlocked the town of Fort Lee for four days.
The vote came after a 40-minute discussion on the floor of the Assembly, where Republican members peppered John Wisniewski – the committee’s chairman – with questions about the process the committee will follow and repeatedly asked for assurances that the minority party would have full and equal access to the information gleaned.
“We have a problem to fix,’’ Wisniewski said prior to the
Republicans, notably Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen/Passaic), criticized Democrats for hiring special counsel without any input from the minority party a day before the panel was convened.
The panel is comprised of eight Democrats, including Majority
Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) and transportation committee head John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), who will chair
the committee, as well as
In addition to Greenwald and Wisniewski, named to the committee are:
· Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic);
· Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris/Somerset);
· Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris/Essex/Passaic);
· 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);
· Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
On Wednesday, Assembly Democrats announced that former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar, of the New York-based law firm of Jenner & Block, has been tapped to be the investigatory committee’s legal counsel.
Schar was the lead investigator and prosecutor in Blagojevich’s corruption trials. The former Illinois governor is serving a 14-year federal sentence for corruption after he was found guilty of soliciting bribes for political appointments, including the 2008 vacant U.S. Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama, while he was governor.