TRENTON – An Assembly transportation panel is moving forward with intentions of issuing subpoenas, if necessary, to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee adopted a resolution today in pursuit of issuing subpoenas in an effort to investigate the agency’s spending practices. The 6-4 party-line vote approved a resolution to formally authorize the issuance of subpoenas.
A motion from Assembly Republican members that would ultimately amend the panel’s subpoena authority was immediately struck down and tabled by Assembly Democrats at the onset of the meeting.
Republicans accused members on the other side of the aisle of engaging in a partisan investigation of the Port Authority, questioning the intent of the resolution and whether it would benefit the public or merely chart a course to embarrass the governor.
Similarly, Democrats accused minority members of being “sent on a partisan mission” by Gov. Chris Christie, asking why members were afraid of allowing the Legislature to properly investigate the Port Authority, said Assemblyman and committee Chair John Wisniewski, (D-19), Sayreville.
“It just seems to me that they are circling the wagons,” Wisniewski said following the committee meeting.
“It’s just unprecedented. I’ve served in the Assembly over 16 years, (and) to have the minority leader and the minority conference leader substitute in on a committee is unprecedented,” he said. “So clearly, this is an issue that is of concern to them.”
Following the meeting, a spokesman for the governor, Michael Drewniak, fired back at Wisniewski, calling to question his role in the investigation because of his position with the Democratic party in the state.
“This is the most transparently partisan sideshow imaginable, orchestrated by a state Democratic party chairman raging with phony righteousness,” Drewniak said.
“This is the same guy who was completely missing in action all the years that the Port Authority was allowed under Democratic governors and Democratic legislative leadership to grow into a seven-headed hydra,” he said.
“It is an indisputable fact of history that only Gov. Christie, with full support of Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo of New York, finally imposed fiscal discipline and transparency where there was none at that agency in the McGreevey/Codey/Corzine and Wisniewski years.”
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-21), Westfield, also called Wisniewski “a partisan guy.”
The Assembly minority leader questioned whether the lawmaker would conduct a fair and impartial review of the Port Authority.
“The question is, what’s his real goal?” Bramnick asked. “What is he going to focus on?”
Assembly Democrats refuted claims that any investigation of the Port Authority would be partisan, saying during the committee meeting the entire transportation panel would know exactly what was being asked of the agency and exactly what documents they would release to the Office of Legislative Services.