The two special committees formed to investigate the George Washington bridge lane closures and other abuses of power in the administration of Gov. Chris Christie will be combined, Trenton Democrats announced Tuesday.
The Assembly and Senate last week each formed their own respective committees to probe the lane closure scandal. The Assembly panel was seated and issued 20 subpoenas to members of Christie’s inner circle and top brass at the Port Authority.
The new committee will be comprised of five Assembly Democrats, three Senate Democrats, three Assembly Republicans and one Senate Republican. It will be co-chaired by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, and Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, according to a release.
"This is the optimal approach to ensuring the people of New Jersey get the answers they need to these questions about the abuse of government power," Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen), said in a release. "I'm happy we've reached an agreement allowing us to proceed forward together. We are also relying strongly on the keen advice of our special counsel to streamline the legislative investigations and make clear to everyone that we expect full cooperation and responsiveness as this inquiry proceeds."
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 as it probes the September lane closures that gridlocked the town of Fort Lee for days, according to a release.
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.