Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Port Authority Chairman Resigns on Heels of GWB Scandal Report

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The ongoing George Washington Bridge scandal has cost another official his job, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that Port Authority Chairman David Samson resigned Friday. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Port Authority Chairman David Samson may be stepping down, but he's not admitting any role in the politically motivated closure of George Washington Bridge access lanes last September. Instead, according to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he's simply making way for a new era at the agency.

"He called me this afternoon and told me that if you're going to have a chance to institute these type of reforms, I think you have to have somebody in there who will be able to take a brand-new look at this and not have to worry about the things of the past, so I'm going to go," Christie said.

Reform of the Port Authority was one of the recommendations in a report released Thursday that was commissioned by Christie's office. It cleared Christie of wrongdoing, but Samson did not cooperate with the investigation, citing attorney-client privilege.

Christie said Samson told him that he had no role in the lane closures.

"I have every faith and trust and confidence in David's integrity, as do people on both sides of the aisle in this state, over the course of the last 40 years that he's been involved on and off in public life," Christie said.

Still, Samson has come under scrutiny for conflicts of interest at the Port Authority. Christie downplayed those concerns and downplayed the significance of Samson's resignation, noting that Samson wanted to step down a year ago, but stayed on at Christie's request.

Meanwhile, Christie, holding his first news conference since early January, was back to his combative self.

At different points of the news conference, he said, "I'm up here trying to very carefully answer your questions, and I don't know whether you can't take notes or you're not listening," "Those kind of questions are just ridiculous," "It's amusing to me when you guys, like, write stories about what you think you're entitled to," and "The premise of the question is so infirmed that I'm not answering it."

Christie did say that he will work in partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo to explore the reforms recommended in Thursday's report, including the possibility of creating separate New York and New Jersey divisions within the Port Authority.

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