Christie chief of staff denies involvement in bridge lane closures

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 Gov. Chris Christie's chief of staff Kevin O'Dowd is sworn in before testifying before the  New Jersey Select Committee on Investigation. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Gov. Chris Christie's chief of staff Kevin O'Dowd is sworn in before testifying before the New Jersey Select Committee on Investigation. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A top aide to Gov. Chris Christie testified before a New Jersey legislative committee that he had no prior knowledge of the decision to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge int September.

Christie’s chief of staff Kevin O’Dowd testified for more than seven hours Monday. In response to questioning by Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, O’Dowd said he doesn’t know who ordered the lane closures.

“I don’t know the answer. I don’t think I should venture a guess,” he said.

“So if you don’t know if Mr. Wildstein closed it, you probably don’t but if you do, I would like you to answer the question, do you know why these lanes were closed?” pressed Greenwald, D-Camden.

“I don’t,” responded O’Dowd.

He told the panel he had no reason to doubt former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly when she denied involvement in the bridge lane closures.

“I have known and worked with Bridget Kelly for four years. And in that time, I knew her to be hard working, energetic and loyal, someone who I believed and trusted,” he said.

Kelly was fired after emails showed she set the plot in motion by writing, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

O’Dowd said he has no reason to believe that Gov. Chris Christie would veto legislation aimed at reforming the Port Authority, the agency that operates the bridge.

The investigative committee’s co-chair, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, said the panel will not call any more people to testify until after the Fourth of July holiday.

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