Wisniewski unwilling to grant three-week subpoena extension

Tensions over the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy are unlikely to be put down as the deadline approaches to comply with a subpoena for documents.

The chairman of the Assembly committee leading the charge in investigating the controversy is unwilling to grant an extension on the subpoenas his committee issued to former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni, an Assembly spokesman said.

The response comes as outside counsel recently hired by Baroni requested a three-week extension on the subpoena seeking documents related to the lane closures.

“Mr. Baroni intends to fully cooperate with the Committee’s investigation. However, as Mr. Baroni’s newly-retained counsel, we will require an opportunity to meet with our client to discuss the facts and circumstances underlying this matter,” reads a letter to the Office of Legislative Services from Baroni’s attorney, Michael Himmel, of Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

“… To permit the collection, review, and production of such documents, we request a three-week adjournment of the subpoena’s return date, which would then be returnable on January 9, 2014,” the letter, which was obtained by PolitickerNJ and first reported on by The Wall Street Journal, continues.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) has been leading the charge into investigating the controversy as chairman of the Assembly committee that issued the subpoenas.

The committee gave Baroni, and various other Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials, until Thursday to turn over emails and other correspondence between top authority officials.

An Assembly Democrat spokesman, Tom Hester, confirmed Wisniewski is “not willing to grant the extension” sought by Baroni’s attorney.

OLS received the letter Tuesday afternoon after Baroni and another former top Port Authority executive, David Wildstein, resigned amid the growing controversy.

Wildstein, who is a former editor of PolitickerNJ, also retained outside counsel.

“As I explained, I have only recently become involved and would 
appreciate it if you would kindly extend the time for responding to your
 subpoena, so that I may review the relevant documents, and consult with 
my client,” reads a separate letter to OLS from Wildstein’s counsel, Alan Zegas.

Wisniewski said Baroni’s attorney issued an “unreasonable request” in seeking the three-week extension.

“I can understand that the attorney is new to the matter and may need some time to get acclimated, but certainly that amount of time is not under active consideration,” he said.

“A day or two? I can be reasonable. Fine,” Wisniewski said. “[But,] these are not complicated requests.”

Wisniewski unwilling to grant three-week subpoena extension