Tag Archive: NJ State Ethics Commission

Avalanche of PA subpoenas provide breadth of investigations and hope for change

The NY/NJ Port Authority (PA), once held in the highest esteem nationally, has post-Bridgegate suffered a severe blow to its reputation. In its “Preliminary Official Statement” of bond offerings (page I-4), it disclosed the huge number of subpoenas it has received. The subpoenas open a window into a broad investigation of PA-related activities. Those issuing the subpoenas include the NJ U. S. Attorney, County of NY District Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, NJ Select Committee on Investigations, and NJ  State Ethics Commission. Issuance of any one  subpoena does necessarily result in a criminal charge. However, the breadth of such an unprecedented number of requests is a harbinger of changes to come. PA Chair John Degnan discusses some of these changes and other matters on this weekend’s NJTV “On the Record.”

Avalanche of PA Subpoenas provide breadth of investigations and hope for change

The NY/ NJ Port Authority, once held in the highest esteem nationally, has post-Bridgegate suffered a severe blow to its reputation. In its “Preliminary Official Statement” of bond offerings (page I-4), it disclosed a huge number of subpoenas it has received. The subpoenas open a window into a broad investigation of PA-related activities. Those issuing the subpoenas include the NJ. U. S. Attorney, County of NY. District Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, NJ Select Committee on Investigations, and NJ  State Ethics Committee. Issuance of any one  subpoena does necessarily result in a criminal charge. However, the breadth of such an unprecedented number of requests is a harbinger of changes to come.  

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

P. A. Chair Samson: A Big Fish Squirming in a Net

NY/NJ Port Authority Chair David Samson is in ever deeper trouble. The NJ Working Families Alliance (NJWFA) has presented a strong complaint against Samson to the State Ethics Committee alleging serious violations of the NJ Conflicts of Interest Law (CIL). Samson might have avoided much of the ongoing scrutiny had he announced earlier that at 74 years of age he had decided it was time to leave the post. Instead he dug in, and now more and more information is being unearthed about his activities. Nonetheless, he may yet escape the net with the help of the NJ Ethics Committee which itself seems ethically-challenged.  

The CIL establishes reasonable ethical guidelines to which NJ appointees, including David Samson, must adhere. These guidelines, as explained in the Complaint, indicate that no commissioner “should use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others…” nor “should act in his official capacity in any manner wherein he has a direct or indirect personal financial interest that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgement…”

Today’s NY Times article adds yet more examples of how David Samson’s efforts and his votes on the P. A. Board have benefitted his law firm Wolff & Samson and Governor Christie. “A comprehensive examination of Mr. Samson’s dealings with Governor Christie and his administration… shows the extent to which their ambitions and successes became intertwined. Mr. Samson and his law firm benefited financially. Mr. Christie benefited politically.” These examples of conflicts include bridge construction contracts, business retention subsidies and a “booming bond business.”

NJSpotlight recently revealed that “the board voted secretly to approve last month Susan Espasa Guerrero as Gov. Chris Christie’s choice of a new Executive Director of the State Ethics Commission.” NJ Spotlight points out she had served in the governor’s office with nine Christie appointees who were subpoenaed by the legislative committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal. “Earlier she worked as a young lawyer at the same law firm as Christie and William Palatucci, the governor’s most trusted political counselor and was later named to serve as an Associate Counsel in the governor’s office after being vetted by Christie’s transition team, which was headed by Samson, who had served as Christie’s campaign counsel.” If it smells like a fish and swims like a fish, it’s probably fishy.

At this moment a big fish is squirming in a net, and often the biggest fishes escape. The NJWFA complaint and investigative bodies, nonetheless, are drawing the net tighter.