Assembly Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) says that he is the "DOT official" described in a criminal complaint against Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith (D-Jersey City) and that he told Smith he was not interested in doing legal work for someone later identified as federal informant Solomon Dwek.
According to the complaint, Smith allegedly told Dwek during a meeting at a Hoboken diner that he would seek help from a powerful contact in the Assembly to expedite a development project Dwek toldSmith he was trying to build on Route 440.
Smith called Wisniewski, the Chairman of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, in an apparent attempt to earn a $10,000 cash payment. Smith's efforts to obtain Wisniewski'slegal helpwent nowhere fast, according to the complaint,a pointverified by Wisniewski.
Themeetingallegedly took placeon Friday, July 17.
"He called me on a Friday," Wisniewski told PolitickerNJ.com, saying that Smith offered to recommend him for some legal work.
"I have a policy. If a member of my (the transportation) committee calls, I take the call," Wisniewski said."He told me that people he was working with were looking for an attorney to help them with the DOT. I said, 'Harvey, I can't take a private client and represent them before the DOT.'
"It was not clear to me that Harvey was acting in any other capacity than as an assemblyman," Wisniewski said.
"He started outwith the question, 'Do you do land use law?' and I told him, 'Yes, I do.' Then he told me these guys he knows are doing athing in Bayonne and I told him, 'I can't do that.'"
The two assemblymen didn't know each other well, Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski said he told Smith that as an elected official, Smith should call the Department of Transportation on his own if he had questions, and said if the agencydidn't call back, "Call me."
The conversation with Smith lasted five minutes, he said.
Wisniewski said the call back never came, nor did ever have a conversation with Dwek, orget approachedby anyone else in the complaint connected to the case.
"As a member of the Transportation Committee, he would ask me about issues – embankment issues, railroad and property issues," said Wisniewski.
According to the complaint, Smith told Dwek that Wisniewski "cannot, I should have known that, ethically we can't represent, his law firm couldn't represent you, but what [the DOT Official's] willing to do to help me out is, with the DOT, if you need, if my clout isn't good enough, he'll make a phone call down the road to let him know how [the DOT Official] supports this project."
Smith and Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), also charged with Smith and 42 others as part of Operation Bid Rig,should both resign, Wisniewski added.
"What they are charged with makes it hard for them to continue to do their jobs," hesaid.
After Smith had made a crack about getting just $5,000 duringan earlier encounter with the confidentialwitness posing asa developer, Dwek allegedly approached the assemblyman's Ford Flex after their diner meeting and said, "Harvey, I don't want you to call me a cheap skunkanymore," and leaned inside the passenger window ofSmith's car, according to the feds.
The document charges that it was then that Dwek handed Smith an envelope with approximately $10,000 inside.
"Hey, it's not about that, it's just about, it's just about the fact that I'm a straight guy," Smithallegedly said in reply.