David Samson, one of Governor Chris Christie’s most powerful and trusted allies, is under increasing pressure to resign as Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the illegal lane closures on the George Washington Bridge (aka “Bridgegate” ) the finances and conduct of Port Authority officials have come under increasing scrutiny – none more so than those of Chairman David Samson.
Samson has been using his position within the Port Authority to benefit himself and his namesake law firm Wolff Samson which has grown immensely under the Christie Administration. According to the New York Times, Samson’s firm as been a continual beneficiary of Governor Christie’s policies and contracts.
A comprehensive examination of Mr. Samson’s dealings with Governor Christie and his administration, both inside the Port Authority and out, shows the extent to which their ambitions and successes became intertwined. Mr. Samson and his law firm benefited financially. Mr. Christie benefited politically. And each enhanced the other’s stature as their relationship deepened in ways that were not apparent at the time...
Perhaps the clearest example of this symbiosis, previously unreported, came last April, when Mr. Samson presided as the Port Authority awarded two bridge construction contracts worth a total of $2.8 billion. Mr. Samson paused after the vote of the 12-member board to call the occasion “joyous and happy.” It certainly was for two clients of his law firm.
A billion here, a billion there, soon you are talking about real money.
Samson did not recuse himself from that vote or any number of votes that posed a conflict of interest according to the Times. And, given the information that has come out in emails during the Bridgegate investigation where David Wildstein and Baroni discuss Samson “retaliating” against New York members of the Port Authority, it seems like Samson was anything but above the fray. He was battling behind closed doors for his interests.
And it’s paid off.
Since Mr. Christie took office, Mr. Samson’s firm has served as counsel for $10.3 billion in municipal bonds, WNYC radio reported. Its share of the municipal bond counsel business has jumped to 22 percent under Mr. Christie, from 2 percent during the administration of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, according to an analysis by Thomson Reuters.
The lobbying and legal work has flowed like a river to Wolff Samson under the Christie Administration. Samson was one of Christie’s earliest and most loyal supporters and he is getting paid back with interest.
But now the patronage is public and for all to see. Many have already called for Samson to resign or for Christie to fire him. Then again, how can Christie distance himself from someone who was intimately involved in his rise to power? If Samson is guilty how can Christie be innocent?
Photo from Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under public domain.