By David Cruz
It’s been so long since the special committee on investigations met — July, in fact — that the public could be forgiven for having forgotten that it even existed. But the committee’s attorney has been at work and has completed a report that — as far as blockbuster revelations go — both sides admit falls a bit short.
“At present, there is no conclusive evidence as to whether Gov. Chris Christie was or was not aware of the lane closures either in advance of their implementation or contemporaneously as they were occurring,” it reads.
That is one of several findings in the report that surprised virtually no one and had some committee members saying no thanks to interview requests today and others seizing the opportunity to repeat their long-held positions.
“Had it actually been a bipartisan investigation that cared about reform, that cared about ensuring that the Port Authority worked properly, looking into how something like this could have occurred while implementing appropriate reforms thereafter, we could have saved millions upon millions of dollars,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.
The 130-page report is a chronological retelling of the events leading up to the now infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email to the events during and after the committee subpoenaed key members of the governor’s staff. Even if it doesn’t contain any major revelations, that’s fine with committee member Valerie Huttle, who says the committee’s impact will be felt far beyond this interim report.
“I’m proud of the work that the committee has done thus far because we were able to get the attention of the U.S. Attorney and now make sure that these witnesses and the testimony are in the proper hands of justice,” she said.
The key witnesses — former Port Authority executive David Wildstein and former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly — have not given testimony to the committee. The extent of their roles is only hinted at by emails and text messages. Did they order the lanes to be closed to get back at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich? The committee draws no harder conclusions than: “…it is clear that [Bridget] Kelly and [David] Wildstein were motivated in part by political considerations.”
This is an interim report and the committee chairs said today their work is not yet complete. But after a year of work and partisan bickering, the committee appears to be as far away as ever from finding anything that counters this statement made by the governor 11 months ago.
“I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning, or its execution,” he said.
The report will be made public on Monday, when the committee will reconvene to — theoretically — discuss its findings, which, after the U.S. Attorney is finally heard from, will likely be rendered moot.