The New Jersey Legislature’s committee dedicated to investigating last September’s lane closures on the George Washington Bridge issued new subpoenas Tuesday asking for testimony from four people including Gov. Chris Christie’s top spokesman, Michael Drewniak. In a statement announcing the subpoenas, the committee’s co-chairs, State Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, said the subpoenas meant their investigation is moving into a “key stage.”
“With these subpoenas for testimony, the joint committee is moving to a key stage of its investigation into how this abuse of government power and threat to public safety occurred,” Wisniewski and Weinberg said. “The people of New Jersey continue to deserve clear answers as to how this abuse was allowed to happen, and the four people we’ve called to testify can begin providing insight into the troubling environment that allowed something as concerning as these lane closings to happen.”
The lane closures led to days of gridlock in Fort Lee, N.J. Some Democrats have alleged they were ordered to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for declining to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.
In addition to Drewniak, the committee subpoenaed testimony from Christie’s former director of governmental affairs, Christina Renna. The committee also subpoenaed two officials at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which oversees the bridge.
Renna is scheduled to testify before the committee along with Port Authority Commissioner William “Pat” Schuber on May 6. Drewniak and Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye are scheduled to testify May 13. Drewniak did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider Tuesday.
Documents subpoenaed by the Legislature’s transportation committee late last year showed close aides to Christie were involved in discussions about the lane closures before they occurred. Last month, lawyers hired by the governor’s office released an internal review of the closures that concluded Christie “did not know of the lane realignment beforehand and had no involvement in the decision to realign the lanes.” The review found two people, former Port Authority official David Wildstein and Christie’s ex-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Ann Kelly both “knowingly participated” in the plan to shut the lanes “at least in some part, for some ulterior motive to target Mayor Sokolich.”
Renna, who resigned in February, reported to Kelly. Earlier this month, a judge ruled Kelly did not have to comply with the committee’s subpoena. On Monday, a source in the New Jersey State House told Business Insider the committee would subpoena people whose testimony could shed light on the actions of others, including Kelly and Stepien.
In an interview with Business Insider Monday, Weinberg said reforming the Port Authority would be a main focus of the committee going forward. Weinberg and Wisniewski said they believed the testimony from these four people would be “crucial” to those reform efforts in their statement about the subpoenas.
“Their insight will be crucial to our reform efforts,” they said. “We look forward to their cooperation and testimony.”
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