Legislative Panel Probing Bridgegate on Hold for Now

TRENTON (AP) -

The New Jersey legislative committee looking into the George Washington Bridge jams will continue its holding pattern — for now.

The panel’s investigation has been on pause awaiting the U.S. attorney’s investigation into the matter.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg said Monday that she and fellow co-chair John Wisniewski plan to meet with each other and the Democrat-controlled leadership about what steps the committee should take next. But those meetings haven’t been scheduled.

Wisniewski said Monday the aim of the committee was to prevent another such scandal.

“The committee’s job is legislative not prosecutorial,” Wisniewski said. “The committee’s job is to understand the mechanics of how this caper could have taken place under everyone’s nose and inconvenienced an entire community for almost an entire week.”

On Monday, former Port Authority official Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, pleaded not guilty to charges they orchestrated the closures for political reasons. Former Port Authority official David Wildstein pleaded guilty on Friday.

The committee held off subpoenaing witnesses because they did not want to interfere with U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s federal investigation.

The Democrat-led committee’s legal fees have been more than $1 million. All told, the investigation has run more than $10 million.

Asked whether the sometimes political nature of the investigation affects its success, Republican Assemblyman Michael Carroll said no.

“It’s always going to be political,” he said. “Just because it’s political and just because it’s partisan doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. To my view, we’re the Legislature; we’re not some lapdog.”