Prieto: Assembly ‘will take appropriate actions’ after reviewing Bridgegate case

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Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) says that the state Assembly “will take appropriate actions” after reviewing testimony and other evidence from the Bridgegate trial where two close allies of Gov. Chris Christie (R) were convicted on all counts. Vincent Prieto

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The closing of the access lanes to the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution was among the most blatant abuses of government power this state has ever seen. If it wasn’t for the Legislature’s investigation that began in the Assembly, this abusiveness may never have come to light,” Prieto said in a statement.

Prior to the trial of Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie, and Bill Baroni, a top official at the Port Authority, the Assembly announced the formation of a special investigatory committee in early 2014 regarding the sudden lane closures of the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

“The Legislature’s investigation was a stellar example of the checks and balances vital to our democracy and the value of the legislative branch’s all-important oversight role,” Prieto added.

“Under my direction, legislative staff has been reviewing the record and testimony from the federal trial and comparing it to the evidence gathered during the legislative hearings. Once complete, the Assembly will take the appropriate actions, if the findings call for it.”

One of the state’s top elected leaders, Prieto also admitted it was “unlikely” that more subpoenas and additional hearing would reveal new information.

“The Assembly will also be devising legislation to strengthen the Legislature’s oversight role by modernizing state law on legislative subpoenas and enforcement of them.”

Prieto concluded by stating that the Assembly will also be closely monitoring a Bergen County court case where a private citizen claims the governor participated in official misconduct by allowing the lane closures to take place.

Christie’s attorney filed an appeal of the matter yesterday and a motion for leave to appeal has been set for January 11, per The Record.

The governor has maintained throughout this scandal that he had no knowledge of the lane closures prior to them occurring, though several witnesses at the trial disputed this claim.

Kelly and Baroni were convicted on all counts related to willingly and knowingly closing the George Washington Bridge lanes as an act of political retaliation for not endorsing Christie for re-election. Both parties immediately vowed to appeal the decision.