Democrats React to GWB Lane Closure Revelations

NJ Spotlight News | January 8, 2014 | Politics
Asm. Wisniewski called documents linking Christie's deputy chief to the GWB lane closures shocking.

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Gov. Chris Christie’s office was silent all day until it put out a late afternoon statement.

The man who has spearheaded the legislative Democrats’ probe into what’s become known as “Bridgegate” called an news conference earlier that attracted a crowd.

“What we’ve seen today is a sad day for New Jersey. The documents that have been published are both shocking and outrageous. They show government at its worst. Among other things, they call into question the honesty of this governor and his staff,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski.

The link between David Wildstein and Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly brings the scandal into the governor’s office for the first time.

The first question to Wisniewski was, did Christie know about any of this?

“I have not seen emails that have the governor’s name on it, but clearly there’s an email that has the governor’s deputy chief of staff on it. This is an administration that keeps a very tight control over what happens and what comes out of the front office. So we’d like to get explanations to who else in the governor’s office knew about this, and what their role was,” Wisniewski said.

Wildstein has been subpoenaed to testify tomorrow before Wisniewski’s committee.

His attorney, Alan Zegas, moved to quash that subpoena today by requesting an order to show cause.

Christie has said he canvassed his staff and no one claimed knowledge of the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

“I’ve made it very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anybody had any knowledge about this they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it. And they’ve all assured me that they don’t. I’ve spoken to Mr. Stepien who’s in charged of the campaign, and he’s assured me of the same thing,” Christie said previously.

Wisniewski was asked how that squares with what’s in the documents.

“Well, there’s two possibilities. Either he doesn’t know what’s going on in his front office or there’s some lying going on,” Wisniewski said.

Democrat Loretta Weinberg said the documents are shocking to her.

“The biggest problem is that that the governor has created an atmosphere at the Port Authority, that enabled people like David Wildstein, to believe that he can just do this. Then enabled people like Bill Baroni, with whom I served with in the state Senate, come forth with a made-up cover-up,” she said.

Christie initially laughed off the episode.

“I worked the cones actually, unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and a hat but I was actually the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question,” he said previously.

Wisniewski says tying up traffic for days to get back at a mayor is no laughing matter.

“When you see the words that somebody was worried about the children being late for school, then the response was, ‘Oh, they’re probably children of Buono voters.’ That’s not what you expect from a Port Authority operation, from a government operation,” Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski says his investigation will continue and there were calls today from Democrats for a criminal investigation.