TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official at the center of a controversy about George Washington Bridge lane closures will be called to testify under oath.
A subpoena was issued Tuesday to David Wildstein ordering him to appear before an Assembly panel on Jan. 9, Assemblyman John Wisniewski announced Tuesday.
“What becomes increasingly clear is that this was not about a traffic study,” Wisniewski told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “That appears to be a rationale devised after the fact to justify the actions.”
Wildstein, who had been Gov. Chris Christie’s No. 2 man at the bistate agency, ordered two approach lanes for local traffic diverted without notice in September. They remained that way for four days, causing gridlock.
Wisniewski said he wants to know why complaints from Fort Lee officials to the Port Authority went unanswered.
“They knew that the mayor was calling, they knew that the police chief was calling. And yet, no one called them back,” he told Smith.
Democrats have suggested the lanes were shut as political retribution after Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, refused to endorse Christie for re-election. The Republican governor has repeatedly denied it, and one of his appointees has said the lane closures were part of a traffic study.
The latest subpoena comes as Wisniewski and his staff review as many as 5,000 documents and emails delivered in recent days to comply with prior subpoenas.
“Every time I think I’m getting to a final conclusion, someone raises additional questions that make it anything from a final conclusion,” said Wisniewski.
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye and two other officials previously were subpoenaed to testify. Gov. Christie’s top deputy at the agency, former state Sen. Bill Baroni, appeared before the committee voluntarily. He and Wildstein have since resigned.
“The time has come to hear directly from Mr. Wildstein,” said Wisniewski, a Democrat. “The public deserves answers as to how this decision was made, who was involved and its true purpose.”
Wildstein’s lawyer Alan Zegas said he was reviewing the subpoena and would meet with his client after the new year.
A former political blogger and friend of the governor since high school, Wildstein resigned his $150,000-per-year job as of Jan. 1, but was forced to leave sooner as the investigation widened.
The governor said he believes Baroni’s explanation that the lanes were closed to conduct a traffic study. No study has been produced. Foye, an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, testified that he was unaware of any such study.
The Port Authority’s inspector general is looking into the closings, as is a U.S. senator from West Virginia. Wisniewski is leading the state legislative probe.
Christie collected endorsements from more than 50 elected Democrats on his way to a 22-point re-election victory.
Christie’s office did not respond to an email request for comment.
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