Top Aide To Chris Christie Testifies To No Knowledge Of Bridge Scandal

by
Reuters
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's chief of staff testified on Monday he had no knowledge of the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last fall that caused huge traffic jams and set off what has been dubbed the Bridgegate scandal.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's chief of staff testified on Monday he had no knowledge of the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last fall that caused huge traffic jams and set off what has been dubbed the Bridgegate scandal.

Kevin O'Dowd is the aide closest to the Republican governor to appear before the legislative panel in Trenton looking into the September incident.

He joined a number of other Christie associates and officials who have testified they had been in the dark about the incident, and apparent abuse of power, that has proved deeply embarrassing for Christie.

The prominent Republican governor, mulling a 2016 run for the White House, has denied any involvement in or prior knowledge of the incident.

"I would like to start my appearance today by making very clear to the committee that I had no prior knowledge of, or played no role in, the decision to close the lanes at the bridge last September," O'Dowd said in his testimony to the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation.

The massive disruption apparently was orchestrated by Christie aides to retaliate against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee who failed to endorse Christie's re-election bid. A shutdown over four days of the access lanes in Fort Lee caused hours-long snarls that delayed school buses, ambulances and commuters.

O'Dowd said the governor asked him to question Bridget Anne Kelly, then his deputy chief of staff, about the closings. She oversaw the governor's relationships with public officials, he said.

Kelly had sent an email saying "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Kelly was fired in January.

Others who have testified to having no prior knowledge of the closings have included Christie's press secretary, his former director of intergovernmental affairs and a commissioner with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees bridge operations.

Federal prosecutors also have opened investigations of the matter.