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Samson Complaint Tests Independence Of Embattled Ethics Commission

The Working Families Alliance specifically charged Samson, as Port Authority chairman, with violating the provisions of the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law that requires a public official to absolutely and completely recuse himself from any matters in which he has a direct or indirect financial interest. According to the alliance, Samson violated the law in the following four cases:

  • Samson’s vote as Port Authority chairman to approve the $256 million expansion of the Harrison PATH station that required the Port Authority to purchase land from his one Wolff and Samson client, PSE&G, and benefited both PSE&G and a second client, Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC, which owned land near the rail station that would rise in value because of the PATH station renovation.

  • Samson’s Port Authority voted to award a $7.5 million contract for the rebuilding of One World Trade Center to Railroad Construction Company, which is partly owned by Alfonso Daloisio, a third Wolff and Samson client.

  • Samson’s Port Authority vote to cut the rent on a parking lot leased by the Port Authority to New Jersey Transit, a fourth Wolff and Samson client, from $900,000 per year to $1 per year for 49 years.

  • Samson’s presence during deliberations and comments both at a Port Authority meeting and afterwards to the public on the positive merits of having the Port Authority take over the operations of Atlantic City Airport from a fifth Wolff and Samson client, the South Jersey Transportation Authority. Samson recused himself from voting on the proposal, acknowledging that his vote would constitute a conflict of interest.

“Simply by reviewing David Samson’s public acts and statements we have identified four clear violations of the code of ethics he is obligated to uphold,” said Mejia. “We are calling on the State Ethics Commission to thoroughly investigate each of these allegations and hold Mr. Samson accountable for his breach of the public trust.”

The Working Families Alliance’s complaint comes on the heels of Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye’s comment that Samson lacks the “moral authority” to lead the bistate agency.

Yesterday’s ethics complaints followed a report by The Record of Hackensack on Sunday that Samson and Christie’s top two political lieutenants at the Port Authority, Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein, met with Christie in advance to discuss Baroni’s and Wildstein’s secret plan to propose a massive Port Authority toll hike in August 2011.

The cynical ploy was to give Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo political cover to publicly attack the size of the toll hike as outrageous, then approve the smaller toll hike that both governors actually wanted.

Wildstein and Baroni both resigned in December after being subpoenaed by the Assembly Transportation Committee, and Christie fired Bridget Kelly, the deputy chief of staff who conspired with Wildstein on the George Washington Bridge lane closures, and his former campaign manager Bill Stepien.

However, Christie met with Samson after the release of the Kelly email and pronounced himself satisfied that Samson did nothing wrong -- despite emails showing that he actively tried to suppress leaks to the press about Bridgegate that he thought were coming from Foye.

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