Activist pressure on the State Ethics Commission on David Samson

UPDATE: Commission clears Dudley Burdge of wrongdoing, and acknowledges it’s looking into the David Samson case. Burdge expressed anger, saying he suspected it was the Christie administration’s way of forcing CWA, his union and one Christie has made a politicslenemy, to bleed money and resources on his defense. He’s probably right.

NJ Working Families, CWA and other social justice and pro-labor activists are putting pressure on the NJ State Ethics Commission to use their powers to investigate David Samson. This morning, they showed up to press that case in person.

What the Commission focused on today, instead of the obvious issues of ethics involved in the unfolding Christie administration abuse of power questions, is the five-year-old case of CWA’s Dudley Burdge, a case which has already been dismissed by an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing early this year. CWA’s John Connelly tells Blue Jersey the story.

To the right, Dudley Burdge this morning, holding a sign reminding commissioners he didn’t close a bridge, or make millions for his law firm. He just made a phone call.

“In the six weeks since we filed ethics charges against David Samson our case has only grown stronger, and Samson’s resignation was necessary but not sufficient to repair this breach of the public trust,” said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families. “The State Ethics Commission is supposed to be a nonpartisan watchdog. It’s time they act like it.”

                            – Analilia Mejia, NJ Working Families

Last month NJ Working Families filed a complaint with the Commission alleging Samson repeatedly violated the NJ Conflicts of Interest Law by voting on or otherwise inappropriately involving himself in Port Authority matters in which the clients of the firm he founded, Wolff & Samson PC, had a stake.

They’re not the only ones alarmed and disgusted by the conflict of interest issues raised by Samson’s behavior at the PA. In February, the Star-Ledger called on him to resign. And resign he did last month, still mum on his Port Authority track record, still acting above it all. Silent he may be, but that record is being examined by the Manhattan District Attorney and NJ federal prosecutors.

The formal complaint against Samson has now been amended, adding allegations that Samson voted to approve a $1.5 billion project to modernize the Goethals Bridge, which included awarding a role to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Inc, a corporation that owned a 50% stake in a long-standing Wolff & Samson client, I.M.T.T.; and that Samson voted to approve a $1.2 billion project to modernize the Bayonne Bridge, which included awarding the construction contract to a joint-venture of another Wolf & Samson client, Skanska Koch, Inc.

As the New York Times has reported, with Samson placed in the top spot at Port Authority by one of his closest friends, Gov. Christie, Samson’s law firm clients profited and Christie gained power. A neat symbiotic relationship between the two close friends, now broken up as both face fallout from the scandals they’re enmeshed in.  

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