Port Authority chief’s firm has made millions during Christie administration

Listen
 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)

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie is still under scrutiny in the so-called “Bridgegate” investigations, and the Asbury Park Press is focusing that lens on David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. NewsWorks Tonight Host Dave Heller spoke about revelations about Samson’s financial gains since Gov. Christie took office with Asbury Park Press reporter Michael Symons. Symons is co-author of the 2012 book “Chris Christie: The Inside Story of his Rise to Power.”

Samson’s connection with the governor dates back to his time as attorney general of New Jersey in 2002, said Symons. “Governor Christie had become U.S. Attorney … Going back 10-plus years, they’ve had a professional and friendly relationship.”

Samson’s law firm, Wolff and Samson, registered to lobby in New Jersey in 2006. “It started kind of slow,” said Symons, “probably averaging 60- or 70,000 a year in revenues. And then that increased significantly after Gov. Christie took office in 2010, went up to about 347,000. And then Wolff and Samson created a separate LLC to do its public affairs. Now if you add the two together, the LLC and the law firm itself … they’ve grown into one of the top 10 outfits, so to speak, in Trenton, with revenues of over a million dollars a year.”

Symons says the apparent connection between Christie’s tenure as governor and Samson’s lobbying income is especially startling, given Christie’s campaign promise to “turn Trenton upside down.”

“I think that, in part because of the reform message that he set as a candidate in 2009,” said Symons, “and because he had his history as U.S. attorney of pursuing public corruption so vigorously, that people thought ‘turn Trenton upside down’ would mean more of a focus on ethics … Some of them — not all of them, obviously — are somewhat disappointed.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.