New Jersey assembly to re-authorize bridge closure subpoenas

New Jersey Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto said Saturday that he will seek to re-authorize the state assembly’s subpoena power to investigate the September lane closures on the Washington Bridge.

The Democratic speaker-elect said he intended to call a special assembly session on Thursday next week in order to re-authorize the assembly’s ability to issue subpoenas.

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Documents released Friday by an investigative panel of the New Jersey legislature suggested Port Authority officials ignored repeated complaints and safety concerns from local residents and officials about traffic jams created by the lane closures.

"The documents released this week related to the George Washington Bridge situation clearly show the need for a continued thorough investigation by the New Jersey General Assembly,” Prieto said in a statement. “Many questions remain unanswered about this threat to public safety and abuse of power.”

There were some questions about whether the new assembly speaker would re-authorize the investigation. 

State Rep. John Wisniewski (D-N.J.), chairman of the legislative committee investigating the lane closures, said on MSNBC Saturday that he had not been told whether Prieto would give his panel continued subpoena power, according to Capital New York.

Democrats say the George Washignton Bridge lanes were closed as an act of political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., who did not endorse New Jersey Gov. Christie (R) in his 2013 reelection.

Christie fired his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly on Thursday, telling reporters that she had lied to him about the lane closings and that he knew nothing about them.

Emails released on Wednesday suggested Kelly gave the go-ahead to Port Authority official David Wildstein to close the lanes on the bridge.

Wildstein and his superior at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, resigned in December as scrutiny of the closures intensified.

Christie said in a lengthy press conference Thursday that he had no knowledge of the closures, and he pledged to fully comply with the ongoing investigations into the scandal.

The potential 2016 presidential candidate said he was “embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”