David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has resigned, effective immediately, said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday afternoon.
Christie said Samson, 74, had told him a year ago that he wanted to retire, but Christie had asked him stay on until after his re-election campaign last year.
Christie announced Samson’s resignation at the start of a press
conference he held to discuss an internal investigation released
Thursday that cleared Christie of any wrongdoing in the George
Washington Bridge scandal.
The report released yesterday suggested that a bi-state commission be created to review restructuring the Port Authority, and as as a priority, the commission should consider a potential fundamental restructuring of the agency’s organization, and the appointment process for its commissioners and senior executives.
The report also said Christie should “work with legislative leaders and their New York counterparts to craft new or modified reform proposals to bring enhanced transparency and accountability across the region’s public authorities.”
Samson is head of one of the state’s most influential law firms, Wolff & Samson. He has been under fire by some community groups and politicians for reasons unrelated to the bridge scandal. For example, the group New Jersey Working Families complained in a petition that “Wolff & Samson represents developers, construction firms and various arms of the Christie Administration that stand to profit from Port Authority decisions.”
of Newark, N.J., reported that Working Families filed a complaint against Samson that is now pending before the New Jersey Ethics Commission.
The paper noted recently that "Samson was not referred to at all in a 360-page report released Thursday that Christie had sought to look into in the wake of the bridge scandal."
The Port Authority oversees marine terminals, a half dozen several major airports in New York and New Jersey, four bridges and two tunnels connecting New Jersey and New York, a commuter railroad, bus terminals, and various real estate properties around the region, including the World Trade Center.
The George Washington Bridge or “Bridgegate” scandal started when several lanes leading from New Jersey to the bridge were closed from September 9-13. It has been alleged that the lane closures, which snarled traffic, were made as political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee, the city at the west end of the bridge.
New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation Co-Chairs, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, said Friday after the governor's press conference that Samson “refuses to be interviewed for the administration's report and then resigns the day after it comes out, leaving us, once again with far more questions than answers.”
Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority, told the editorial board of the New York Daily News
in February that he believed Samson lacked the moral authority to be in charge of the agency, but declined to elaborate on his reasons for his view.