(Trenton, NJ) Tomorrow morning – Tuesday, April 22nd – The Communications Workers of America and other interested parties will be staging a rally outside the State Ethics Commission (SEC) meeting at 9:30 am. The purpose is to protest the Christie Administration’s ridiculous charges against CWA Union Representative Dudley Burdge.
In February 2009, Dudley Burdge – a CWA Union Representative appointed to the State Health Benefits Commission – received questions from public workers who had received an unannounced and ambiguous mailing from a private, out-of-state company asking for personal information as part of an audit related to their health benefits coverage. Employees were rightfully concerned about a suspicious solicitation of social security numbers, dates of birth for dependents, as well as copies of marriage and birth certificates. The decision to conduct such an audit had not been discussed with members of the State Health Benefits Commission, and Burdge was concerned about its authenticity. Following-up on employees’ legitimate privacy concerns, Burdge called the company via a telephone number provided on the letter. He identified himself as a Commissioner and sought to obtain information about the audit.
A month after Christie won election as governor, the State made a formal referral to the SEC. The State filed formal ethics charges against Burdge in July 2011 for making his simple phone call to ask a legitimate question over two years earlier. Another charge was later withdrawn after it was clear that it had no merit, but the State refused to drop the charge related to that phone call. Earlier this year, Burdge had a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge – who found the complaint had no merit and dismissed it. However, SEC lawyers have incredulously continued to pursue this case by filing exceptions to the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, which places the case before the same agency that brought the charges.
“The charges against Dudley Burdge are bogus and should be dropped. Dudley simply made a phone call…he didn’t shut down a bridge,” said Hetty Rosenstein, CWA NJ Director. “The State Ethics Commission is supposed to protect the public from people like David Samson, who abused his position at the Port Authority to fill his law firm’s coffers with millions of taxpayer dollars. The SEC shouldn’t be wasting its time, as well as the taxpayer’s money, persecuting innocent people like Dudley Burdge.”
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2013
State Ethics Commission
28 West State Street
Compare Burdge’s persecution with the ethics charges rightfully filed against David Samson. Samson is a well-connected Christie appointee who used his Port Authority Chairmanship to fill his law firm’s coffers. Samson recently resigned in disgrace.
· In total, Samson’s firm – Wolf Samson – has received nearly $5 million in government contracts since Christie became governor.
· Wolf Samson’s lobbying profits exploded from a mere $40,000 before Samson was appointed Chairman of the Port Authority to $1 million per year after.
· Samson lobbied for $2.8 billion in bridge contracts to a company represented by his law firm. He failed to recuse himself from neither discussions nor the vote.
· Samson championed the Port Authority takeover of the Atlantic City Airport – even thought Wolf Samson served as bond counsel for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which ran the airport. Even though he recused himself from the vote, Samson still let his feelings on the matter be known, both publicly and to fellow commissioners.
· NJ Transit paid Wolf Samson $1.5 million to advise on ways to generate more revenue from its parking facilities. During this time, Samson’s Port Authority voted to lease a park-and-ride lot to NJ Transit for $1.
· Samson voted to award a $7.5 million One World Trade Center rebuilding contract to a company partly-owned by a Wolf Samson client.
· Samson voted to spend $256 in taxpayer dollars to re-construct a PATH station in Harrison – which could potentially increase the value of nearby development for a Wolf Samson client.
· David Samson recently resigned in disgrace…but only after making millions of dollars for his law firm via his position at the Port Authority.
Common sense dictates that the SEC should drop their charges against Dudley Burge and focus on important investigations – such as digging into how David Samson abused his position to line his law partners’ pockets at taxpayer expense.
Budge doesn’t have the benefit of a 600 dollar an hour taxpayer funded lawyer. Still this incident should rile taxpayers up, for having to foot the bill for a four-year investigation into nothing. And tomorrow, these bogus charges against Burdge should be dropped.