Kevin O’Dowd (Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)
Kevin O’Dowd, Gov. Chris Christie’s chief of staff, has been subpoenaed by the N.J. legislative committee investigating last fall’s closure of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
O’Dowd, who had been Christie’s intended nominee for the post of state attorney general, would be the highest ranking current or former member of the administration to testify. His appearance is scheduled for Monday.
O’Dowd was the direct supervisor of Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, who is believed to have been instrumental in the lane closings along with David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Christie fired Kelly and Wildstein resigned. Both have refused to appear before the committee, raising their Fifth Amendment privilege.
“This subpoena is a necessary step in the committee’s bipartisan investigation into the lane closings and apparent abuse of government power and threat to public safety,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, co-chairs of the New Jersey Select Committee on Investigation, on Wednesday.
“Mr. O’Dowd is in a unique position to provide insight into what happened under his watch as chief of staff to the governor. We look forward to his cooperation and testimony,” they said.
The administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak and two former officials in the governor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs—Christina Renna and Matthew Mowers—have testified before the committee, denying any role in the Sept. 9-13 lane closings.
Drewniak told the committee last month that he told Christie and O’Dowd that he had dinner with Wildstein on Dec. 4 and that Wildstein said the closures were part of a traffic study. Wildstein, according to Drewniak, claimed to have told Christie about the lane closures at a Sept. 11 memorial event.
Christie has denied knowing anything about the lane closures in advance. An internal investigation by a law firm he retained, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York, cleared him and his current staff of any wrongdoing.
Christie’s nomination of O’Dowd as state attorney general, announced last year, was put on hold because of the Legislature’s probe.
The lane closings also are the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation.
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