Dressed in funereal black/grey clothing David Samson, once considered an eminent New Jerseyan, but now an admitted crook, entered Federal Court in Newark this morning. The former Chair of the NY/NJ Port Authority, he pleaded guilty to using his post to get United Airlines to provide direct air service to make it easier to get to his vacation home in South Carolina. At the same time United was in negotiations with the Port Authority over its lease at Newark Liberty International Airport.
There had long been allegations that Samson used his position as head of the multi-billion dollar agency for his personal benefit and to benefit clients of his powerful law firm. The original federal investigation initially began with Bridgegate. However, it was the money-losing, non-stop route that United Airlines introduced which brought Samson down. He pleaded guilty today in court to a felony and admitted that he used his position as Port Authority chairman to pressure United into reinstating the route.
A close confidante and mentor of Governor Christie, Samson was forced to resign as Chair of the NY/NJ Port Authority in 2014 whereupon his own name was removed from his law firm, and he retired. He was a former NJ Attorney General, advisor to two governors, Chair of Christie’s Transition Committee, and a frequent Christie travel companion.
Samson served as the Port Authority chair before, during and several months after Bridgegate. An email from a Port Authority official to a Christie aide, both of whom were later charged, described Samson “helping to retaliate” after Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye ordered the lanes reopened.
Many have wondered about phone conversations between Samson and Christie during Bridgegate. Donald Trump, often not credible but always incredible, said yesterday about Christie and the GW Bridge “He knew about it. He totally knew about it.” Regardless of what Trump said, there is no doubt that Christie talked frequently with Samson who appears to have made efforts while still chairman to stifle the growing Bridgegate scandal. All of this is happening while Christie is mentioned as a a possible vice president or Attorney General in a Trump presidency. Samson’s reputation has been severely tarnished, and Christie’s reputation through the close association will likely also suffer.