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Wednesday 20 August 2014

More documents to be requested on Washington Bridge scandal

Published 11/01/2014 | 20:53

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Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gestures as he takes the stage at his election night party in Asbury Park, New Jersey in this November 5, 2013, file photo. Potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have begun getting involved in 2014 congressional and governor's races.   REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTX151RU
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

A New Jersey lawmaker on Saturday said he intends to formally request Governor Chris Christie and his staff hand over more correspondence and documents related to the bridge scandal that has engulfed Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party.

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Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat who chairs his legislative body's Transportation Committee, told CNN he would make the request on Monday because "there's still a lot of documents we haven't gotten we'd like to see."

Wisniewski's comments came a day after more than 1,000 pages of anxiously-awaited papers, subpoenaed by New Jersey lawmakers, were made public.

They relate to revelations a member of Christie's staff appeared to have orchestrated massive traffic jams over four days in September on the George Washington bridge that severely affected the town of For Lee, in what may have been political payback because the mayor there did not endorse Christie's election bid.

Christie, a powerful figure in the Republican Party and a likely contender for the White House in 2016, has adamantly denied any knowledge of an apparent scheme to snarl traffic. On Thursday, he apologized for the fiasco and said he had fired a top aide, Bridget Kelly, and severed political ties with his former campaign manager after emails surfaced that seemed to link them to the scandal.

Two of Christie's appointees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bi-state agency that oversees transportation facilities in the region, have resigned over controversy linked to the closures.

Wisniewski told CNN on Saturday no evidence or documents have surfaced that link Christie to the lane closures, but he said the Transportation Committee was probing whether anyone else in the governor's office might have been involved.

"Our investigation would be made immeasurably simpler if the governor's office would say, 'Please tell us what you'd like, we'll turn over all of those documents, the governmental emails, the personal emails, the correspondence, so that you can look at them and determine for yourself,'" Wisniewski told CNN.

A representative for the governor did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Wisniewski on Friday said the documents released that day raised more questions than they answered about whether Christie knew about the traffic tie-up, and in particular he pointed to a reference to a potential meeting between Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Christie one week before the jam.

The documents show chaos and anger, but fail to clear up whether the epic tie-up was the result of what Christie said may have been a Port Authority traffic study.

The hastily-called closure of three local access lanes leading to the bridge slowed school buses and emergency workers, as well as commuters.

Wisniewski said he believes laws were broken but said any decision to bring criminal charges would depend on prosecutors.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman, whose job Christie held before being elected governor, has opened an investigation into the decision to close the bridge lanes.

Documents previously released show Kelly emailed Port Authority executive David Wildstein in August to say, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Wildstein, a Christie appointee, replied: "Got it."

Kelly could not be reached for comment on Saturday. Wildstein has admitted to ordering lane closures and resigned his post. He declined to answer questions in an appearance before the Transportation Committee on Thursday, invoking his constitutional protection not to say anything that might incriminate himself.

Reuters

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