NJ Lawmakers Unlikely to Hold New Hearings on Bridgegate

TRENTON (AP) -

There would be little point in launching new legislative hearings in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal because they are not likely to reveal any new details, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said Tuesday.

Prieto, a Democrat, added, though, that legislative staffers will look over the record from the roughly six-week federal trial and compare it to findings from legislative hearings.

An investigative panel did not find evidence that Gov. Chris Christie was connected to the wrongdoing. Two former allies were convicted in the trial. A third pleaded guilty.

The Assembly may bring impeachment charges but so far has not done so. Prieto said he would use the “full powers” of the chamber if anyone is convicted after the proceedings in state court stemming from a complaint from a resident.

On Monday, a judge set a court date for Christie’s appeal of a resident’s complaint he failed to stop the lanes closures. State Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol set oral arguments for Jan. 11.

The appeal stems from a Bergen County judge’s order that Christie appear at a Nov. 23 hearing, which was postponed by Mizdol’s order.

The complaint was filed by retired Teaneck firefighter William Brennan and alleges Christie failed to order subordinates to re-open the bridge access lanes from Fort Lee. It alleges Christie “knowingly refrained from ordering that his subordinates take all necessary action to re-open local access lanes” that had been “closed with the purpose to injure [Democratic] Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich” for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid.

The complaint claims residents were “deprived the benefit and enjoyment of their community.”

Official misconduct is considered a second-degree offense in New Jersey and carries a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

Three investigations into the scandal found no evidence Christie authorized or knew about the lane closures. Federal prosecutors did not charge Christie after their investigation, a Democrat-led legislative panel failed to find evidence linking the governor to the plot and a 2014 taxpayer-funded report found the governor was unaware of the September 2013 closures until afterward.

Christie’s office has called Brennan a “serial complainant with a history of abusing the system.”

Brennan on Tuesday disputed the negative characterization.

“If these people stopped breaking the law, I wouldn’t be a serial complainant,” he said.