By Dari Kotzker
Assemblyman John Wisniewski will head a special super committee to continue investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal. This comes less than 24 hours before the Assembly subpoena power expires.
“I want to ensure we give all the tools and resources to this committee to actually be able to leave no stone unturned to find out what happened. What happened here cannot happen again. An abuse of power like this is not something that we’ll stand for,” said Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto.
“I appreciate the confidence and support that they have in me continue this investigation with the support of a super committee that will run a thorough and fair investigation so we can follow the facts wherever they may lead us,” said Wisniewski.
The committee will be bipartisan, but who will be on it and how many Republicans will be on board hasn’t been determined yet. Prieto says he plans to reach out to Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick about the committee membership.
“I would always like to see a committee to be 50/50. I know that’s not going to happen. I think in order to have credibility, you try to be as bipartisan as possible,” Bramnick said.
The super committee, which will have an independent counsel, will likely find out who on Wednesday. Sen. Loretta Weinberg called for a joint legislative committee, but Assembly leaders decided against that. So, Senate President Steve Sweeney is planing a separate one.
“We would have preferred to work with Assembly in a joint committee but we’re going to start our own committee on Thursday with subpoena power to move forward and hopefully we can coordinate our efforts as much as possible with the Assembly because we do need to work together,” Sweeney said.
“The Assembly had the lead on this, and I did not want to change that from the chairman. We’ve been working well with the Senate and as he said Sen. Weinberg has been a part of this. It is her district but at this time, I thought it would be better served that we continue what we were doing, to make sure all the work we had already had done, we can just expand from there with all the proper tools,” Prieto said.
Could these investigations lead to impeachment?
“That’s way, way premature and I think the Assemblyman that threw it out there said it was too. You can’t jump to a conclusion,” Sweeney said.
“Right now we’re not there yet. We’re going to follow the evidence that comes before us and listen. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty so I take everybody at their word,” Prieto said.
The Assembly will vote on Thursday to extend subpoena power. If approved, Wisniewski said the two most likely people to be subpoenaed next will be Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Stepien.