Trenton, NJ, United States (4E) – David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), has resigned, Gov. Chris Christie said Friday.
Christie said in a news conference that Samson informed the governor by phone of his decision to resign effective immediately to put new leadership in the agency. But he said the resignation of Samson has nothing to do with the Fort Lee, NJ bridge lane closure scandal.
“I think that his role was not central in any of these things, nor has it ever been alleged that his role was central,” The New York Times quoted Christie as saying.
The governor added that Samson denied authorizing the closure.
Samson released a statement after the announcement saying he had told Christie of his desire to conclude his service at the PANYNJ over the past months.
Samson, whom Christie appointed in 2011, was among those investigated about the scandal, in which two of three lanes of the George Washington Bridge were closed from Sept. 9 to 13 last year causing traffic jams. The closure was reportedly in retaliation for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s failure to endorse Christie’s reelection bid last year.
The PANYNJ chair had refused to be interviewed by lawyers commissioned by Christie to investigate the scandal. Christie disclosed the lawyers’ report of their findings Thursday. The report said Christie was not involved and blamed the governor’s former top aide, Bridget Anne Kelly and PANYNJ executive, David Wildstein, for the closure. The report also did not say what the motive for the closure was.
Samson, however, is being investigated for conflict of interest as his law firm represented two construction companies awarded bridge contracts by the PANYNJ.
One of five New Jersey members of the authority’s Board of Commissioners is expected to temporarily replace Samson before a permanent replacement is appointed.