Tag Archive: David Samson

Bridgegate investigation may be coming to an end says WSJ

The Wall Street Journal reported last night, “U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s investigation into lane closures at the George Washington Bridge and other alleged abuses at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expected to wrap up in coming weeks after more than a year.” We have heard other similar reports before but the WSJ tends to speak with authority and care.

The article does not say who if anyone will be indicted but does include information about Chris Christie, David Wildstein, David Samson, Bill Baroni, Bill Stepien, Michael DuHaime, Bridget Kelly and Regina  Egea. The article points out, “Any efforts to cover up the bridge matter could translate into obstruction charges if they were substantiated, according to lawyers involved.”

The WSJ adds, “Mr. Christie has assured donors and supporters of his potential White House run that he addressed the bridge scandal after it surfaced and that he has moved past the issue.” A recent example of him trying to do the same is the Exxon Mobile settlement for which his explanations so far have seemed unsatisfactory.  

Ingle: People realizing Christie is “more or less politics as usual”

Chris Hayes on Friday night looked at the current situation with the new inquiry looking at what apparently was called the “Chairmans’s flight” that David Samson took, that didn’t exist before he was Port Authority Chairman and ceased existing 3 days after Samson left the position.  You can see the segment here:

They went on to talk about the Governor’s no good, very bad week and what got my attention was this line from Bob Ingle toward the end of the segment:

The people who had this image as the guy who is above all of this corruption, this guy who is a regular sort of fellow who would eat a cheesesteak on the boardwalk is not really who they thought he was. That he is more or less politics as usual and I think that is hurting him with his fan base

That’s really Christie’s biggest problem, all of these stories undermine the image they have worked so hard to craft. We here at Blue Jersey would argue it is more than politics as usual and we’ve made that argument for years, but it’s good to see everyone else taking a second look at Governor Downgrade through that lens.

The Samson “Chairman’s Flight” was 20.6% full compared to the United average of 84.9%

The Financial Times took a look at the subpoena’s from the US Attorney’s office to United Airlines regarding what seems to be known as the “Chairman’s Flight” that David Samson regularly took.  If you haven’t seen the story, here is a summary:

The subpoenas suggest federal prosecutors’ investigation has gone well beyond that initial “Bridgegate” affair. It has been widely reported to revolve around the airline’s operation, from September 2012 until three days after Mr Samson’s resignation, of two round trips weekly – on Mondays and Thursdays – between Newark and Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia is 56 miles from Aiken, South Carolina, where Mr Samson and his wife have had a home since 2006.

But in that story, they have this amazing stat on just how empty the flights really were in comparison to the other United flights:

Only 309 of the 1,500 seats United offered on the Columbia to Newark service between September 2012 and the end of that year were filled, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That 20.6 per cent load factor compares with the 84.9 per cent average for all United’s domestic flights in 2012.

No wonder they stopped running the flight after Samson resigned. United probably wishes they could get rid of the subpoenas they apparently received as a result of it that easily.

A Port in a Storm

The NY NJ Port Authority Board met yesterday. It continues to disappoint us.

  • The Board approved its $7.8 billion 2015 budget after providing only eight days for the public to submit written comments and only one venue for speakers to address their concerns.

  • Former PA Board Chair David Samson, who resigned his post earlier this year amid questions about conflicts of interest, is now trying to head off a state ethics probe of his work at the bi-state agency. He is also under federal investigation.  

  • None of the Board members announced their resignation in spite of the fact that the Record points out, “many of them [are] affiliated with powerful law firms, Wall Street banks and labor unions.” Instead the members continued their seemingly endless debate on the need for new rules that would restrict them from participating in agency decisions that could indirectly benefit them or their associates.

  • At the board meeting Sen. Loretta Weinberg said too much was going to the World Trade Center instead of the bus depot. Although the PA is considering the renovation or replacement of the terminal, its Capital Plan (Page F 17) forecasts 2014 to 2023 expenses of $173 million or an average of $17 million a year for only repairs and enhancements. For the same 10-year period it forecasts for the WTC (page F 18) a total of $4.9 billion.  

  • Bridgegate: Deleted Texts, Inconsistencies, Contradictions, and Lies

    UPDATE: In the post directly below this one is the statement by Asm Wisniewski and Sen. Weinberg, explaining the rationale for refusing to provide immunity to key witnesses, discussing Gov. Christie’s “curious lack of curiosity” of the harm to thousands of NJ motorists, and his front office staff, which “blurred the lines between their official state functions and campaign objectives.” Their work, they say, is not over. Statement here.

    The New Jersey Law Journal (paywall unfortunately) got it right, in their headline:

    Bridgegate Committee Stops Short of Clearing Christie

    Christie is doubtless puffed up and feeling vindicated as he pimps for the Keystone XL pipeline with his entourage up in Canada. As though not getting caught red-handed is the same thing as governing by the straight and narrow. As though inconclusive information – because those investigating him can’t access all the witnesses – is the same things as running a clean, ethical and law-abiding ship. And qualifying to be President of the United States.  

    Christie Gambled with Your Money and Lost. Again.

    In a world where government revenue is shrinking and demands for services are increasing, state governments continue to look for ways to generate more income. One such method has been state lotteries, which have been around in their present form since the mid-’80s.

    In spite of the fact that state lotteries are really a form of regressive taxation, they have become a popular and essential element of the state fiscal budgeting process. In New Jersey, they represent the fourth largest source of revenue. But that source has been decreasing over the past several years.

    Exacerbating the problem is the fact that in the Garden State, the administration of the lottery is outsourced to a for-profit consortium, partially owned by foreign interests, that has been a solid donor to GOP political causes, including Chris Christie’s Republican Governor’s Association. And to add insult to injury, the firm that lobbied for this lucrative outsourcing scheme was Wolff & Samson – the same David Samson that’s embroiled in the Bridgegate scandal. Of course, back when this contract was being “competed”, as Seth Hahn – the political director of the CWA – points out, potential bidders knew about the Christie/Samson connection and probably figured it was not worth their effort to vie for this contract. Hahn said that “The M.O. of the Christie Administration is not to put good government first.” The consortium that eventually received the contract was the sole bidder.

    Today, the Bloomberg News Service reported that instead of meeting its goal of a 7.4% increase in revenue, the privately-run New Jersey Lottery is facing a shortfall of 9.2%, or $24 million – money that is desperate needed by the state, whether it is for education, aid for the disabled, or one of Christie’s unnecessary senatorial elections.

    It’s All About Cereal: Tedesco vs. Donovan (Cont’d)

    Yesterday’s Blue Jersey “cereal” article pointed out that in the Bergen County race for County Executive Democrat James Tedesco brings change and strengths to the job with broad-based experience and support from key elected officials and unions. The incumbent Republican Kathleen Donovan, however, is no pushover. She is a fixture in Bergen politics and has heavy-hitter supporters. She has also created enemies and controversies which hound her. There are good reasons to vote for Tedesco as well as the two Democratic Freeholders running for re-election.  

    NY/NJ Port Authority: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”

    The NY/NJ Port Authority, with considerably less authority now than eight months ago, is being pricked at by multiple assailants. Like a monarchy fearing the loss of its throne the Port Authority may view this as a “rude assault” but “little pin bores through the castle wall” signal that after years of “self and vain conceit” it is no longer impregnable. This three-headed monarchy has already found its chairman David Samson slipping away into the night (and likely into infamy). Its most aggressive ruler Chris Christie, like the vain, greedy and villainous King Richard II, must be realizing that within his “hollow crown keeps Death his court and there the antic sits, scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp, allowing him a breath, a little scene to monarchize.”

    Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will review Gov. Christie’s nomination of John J. Degnan, a wealthy former NJ Attorney General and senior executive with the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, to be Chairman of the Port Authority. Unfortunately Degnan brings no experience in the PA’s line of business. He appears to have been helpful to Christie in providing him political cover after the governor failed to renominate Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, and he joined the Christie gun violence commission that reported back supporting only the “low hanging fruit” which Christie espoused. What the PA needs is a New Jerseyan more familiar with its business and less involved with the governor’s politics.

    David Samson works late, makes calls.

    From David Samson’s call log, after hours on the first day of the Bridgegate lane closures.

    David Samson phone log Bridgegate

    David Samson, as a former NJ Attorney General was once the chief law enforcement officer in the state. And at nearly 75 is a trusted elder in Christie’s innermost circle. Close enough, that Christie brought Samson to celebrate with him when he was installed as RGA chair in Arizona last year.  

    Report: Fishman targeting Samson. Second grand jury empaneled

    Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening — he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case.  

    . . . .

    Fishman’s challenge is to nail down specific criminal charges on several fronts — the diversion of Port Authority money to fund New Jersey road and bridge projects; the four-day rush-hour closures of George Washington Bridge lanes in Ft. Lee; and a web of real-estate deals spun by David Samson, long a Christie crony, when he chaired the PA’s Board of Commissioners as Christie’s appointee. . . .

    the question that truly matters is whether Fishman’s pursuit leads to the governor himself. Christie’s Port appointees — not only Samson, but former PA Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball sidekick David Wildstein — all face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie, as is the governor’s former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.