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New Jersey Democrats form joint panel to probe scandal

Published On: Jan 21 2014 09:57:31 AM CST

TRENTON, N.J. -

New Jersey Democrats are forming a joint legislative committee to investigate allegations surrounding members of Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration.

Members of the state Assembly and Senate will merge into one panel that will have subpoena power and use special counsel Reid Schar. It will be comprised of eight Democrats and four Republicans.

Lawmakers have issued 20 subpoenas, so far, as they examine the decision to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge and other matters raising concerns about the abuse of government power.

Documents that surfaced earlier this month revealed that a Christie staffer ordered two of three approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge from the town of Fort Lee shut down for four days in September apparently as political retribution against the borough's mayor, perhaps for not endorsing Christie for re-election.

Christie has apologized, denied any involvement with or knowledge of the plot and fired a deputy chief of staff at the center of the controversy, but questions have continued.

The U.S. attorney's office is also investigating.

Christie's administration also faces an allegation from the Democratic mayor of Hoboken that it tied the delivery of Superstorm Sandy aid to the low-lying city of 50,000 across from Manhattan to support for a prime real estate project.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno strongly denied those claims Monday and described them as "false" and "illogical."