A New Jersey politician investigating a scandal involving Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the George Washington Bridge said this week that orders to close several lanes on the bridge in September came from outside the agency that runs it.
But Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) investigating the scandal stopped short in an interview published Wednesday in the Bergen Record newspaper of implicating Christie, who has repeatedly denied he had anything to do with the closures that caused days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J.
“There are documents that we’ve received that would indicate that there was somebody else who initiated this,” Wisniewski told the newspaper. “There are words that are used that would imply an improper motive.”
Some Democrats have alleged Christie or his allies at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, ordered the lanes closed because Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid last year.
Already, Christie’s top appointees at the agency, Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, have resigned over the scandal. Both have said the closures were the result of a traffic study.
Wisniewski has been leading a legislative investigation of the scandal and recently subpoenaed communications between Christie’s appointees and the governor’s office.
He told the Record the documents Port Authority officials provided to his committee indicate Wildstein was following instructions from higher ups when he ordered the closures.
“This didn’t originate with David Wildstein,” said Wisniewski. “It came from a higher authority.”
Though he said Wildstein was being directed by his superiors, Wisniewski stopped short of saying he had evidence Christie played a part in the decision to shut the lanes.
“I don’t want to go that far. I’m not ready to dot that ‘I’ and cross that ‘T’ … I don’t want to jump too many steps ahead of myself,” Wisniewski told the Record. “I haven’t ruled anybody in or anybody out.”
On Tuesday, Wisniewski announced that he issued a subpoena to Wildstein, ordering him to testify at a hearing about the issue Jan. 9. Wisniewski told TPM in a phone interview Tuesday that the decision to subpoena Wildstein was made in response to information found in emails Wildstein provided in response to the initial request for documents indicating the traffic study was concocted after questions about the lane closures began to mount.
“It’s become very clear that the issue of the rationale or the justification for the alleged traffic study was put together after the fact,” said Wisniewski. “We see a moving target of grasps at rationalization for the action that was taken. So, it’s become very clear that there was no traffic study to measure the efficacy of so called dedicated lanes from Fort Lee.”