Prieto following through on effort to seek subpoena power over state officials

TRENTON – The chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee is following through with his promise to seek subpoena power against uncooperative state officials.

Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, (D-32), Secaucus, told PolitickerNJ Friday he plans to hold a committee hearing as soon as next week to vote on a resolution he hopes will pressure state departments and employees to cooperate with lawmakers.

The proposal, AR151, was introduced Thursday in response to the state Treasurer’s repeated refusal to appear before the Assembly panel, Prieto said.

“It’s basically for the Treasurer and for any other employee or department that we’re not getting information from,” he said.

The Budget Committee chairman stressed the resolution is not in reaction to any one issue, rather, he said, it’s born out of the Gov. Chris Christie administration’s repeated refusal to share information.

“There are many questions we want to ask,” Prieto said. “I’m frustrated with the process. I just think that it’s not right.”

Last week, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff declined to appear before the committee to answer questions regarding oversight of Superstorm Sandy recovery funds.

“It was to get information on the Sandy rebuilding and the allocation of the funds that are coming from the feds,” said Prieto, arguing that elected officials are being kept in the dark.

“I don’t even know what portion [of federal dollars are] coming to New Jersey,” said a frustrated Prieto.

It was the fourth time the Treasurer declined an invitation by the committee to testify on issues related to the state’s budget, he said.

According to the proposal, the “resolution explicitly authorizes the committee to investigate all matters related to the state budget and state finances including, but not limited to, revenue collections, state budget contingency plans, private management services for the state lottery, federal relief funding in response to Hurricane Sandy, and any facts the committee deems relevant in determining whether the circumstances associated with the State budget and state finances necessitate further legislative action,” reads the proposal.

The Assembly Budget Committee is expected to vote on the resolution sometime during the week. It will then head to the full Assembly for a vote.

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton