Ethics claim against bridge chairman tests impartiality of Christie-appointed panel

 New York/New Jersey Port Authority Chairman David Samson is shown with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie at Newark Liberty International Airport, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, file)

New York/New Jersey Port Authority Chairman David Samson is shown with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie at Newark Liberty International Airport, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, file)

A conflict-of-interest complaint against Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman David Samson could be a test of how the New Jersey Ethics Commission deals with charges against Christie administration appointees.

The New Jersey Working Families Alliance claims Sampson voted or influenced the vote on contracts that benefited clients of his private law firm.

Analilia Mejia, executive director of the alliance, said she believes the complaint will test the commission’s neutrality because its new director used to work in the governor’s office.

“But I think by making this very public, by ensuring that New Jerseyans are well aware of what’s going on, that this is going to be very hard to sweep under the rug and it will not be business as usual,” she said Tuesday.

Even though Its members were appointed by Christie, the panel can be impartial if it follows the law in reaching a decision, according to its former vice chairman.

“The proof of that is going to be in how it develops, and I think that there’s enough information about Sampson so that if they pull any punches it’ll become pretty clear,” said Bill Schluter.

Samson’s lawyer said he looks forward to rebutting all of the concerns in the complaint.

If he’s found guilty of violating ethics laws, the commission could fine Samson, reprimand him, or remove him from his Port Authority position.

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