Chris Christie: Port Authority Chairman Resigning After In-House Bridgegate Report
Pursuant to the recommendations of a committee of attorneys commissioned by Governor Chris Christie to investigate the scandal known as Bridgegate, Port Authority Chairman David Samson (pictured) has resigned from the top position at the organization, Christie announced in a press conference Friday.
Detailing that he trusts the work of the commission led by his attorneys, the governor reiterated that "I had nothing to do" with the politically motivated closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge last September. He noted that some of the recommendations in the report called for major changes at the Port Authority, which runs the interstate crossing.
The Governor told the press that among the major reforms proposed that he would like to move forward with was to split the Port Authority into two entities, one governed by each state. "The best way, perhaps, to deal with this is taking the Hatfields and the McCoys and taking them to separate homes," the Governor explained. He noted that he would begin to speak to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately about putting into action these reforms.
The biggest news Christie made at the conference, however, was announcing the resignation of Port Authority Chairman David Samson, a controversial figure who has been alleged to have ties to the bridge scandal, as well as a number of controversial conflicts of interest alleged by critics. Samson was also tied to the allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds if Zimmer did not approve a housing project linked to Samson's law firm. New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak had proposed earlier this year a bill to have Samson removed from the position over conflicts of interest.
"He completely supports the recommendations laid out for the Port Authority," Christie noted, and said that Samson's resignation was "effective immediately."
"David has been talking to me for the better part of a year about moving on," Christie later said in response to a question from a member of the media. Noting that the chairman was 74 years old, he explained that he personally asked Samson to stay in the position until he won his reelection bid, and then would begin a transition into his second term.
In a written statement cited by the New York Times, Samson wrote, “Over the past months, I have shared with the Governor my desire to conclude my service to the PANYNJ. The timing is now right, and I am confident that the Governor will put new leadership in place to address the many challenges ahead.”
Watch Christie's press conference below: