Cuomo Future of Port Authority board chair up to Christie - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Cuomo: Future of Port Authority board chair up to Christie

Posted: 2014-03-10 13:42:06
Updated: 2014-03-10 13:43:31

(CNN) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo kept his distance on Monday from controversy surrounding Port Authority Chairman David Samson, who is under pressure over agency business dealings and whose name has surfaced in a separate political scandal roiling the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"The chairman of the Port Authority is an appointee of the governor of New Jersey and I will leave it to the governor of New Jersey to make that decision," Cuomo told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer when asked whether Samson should resign.

The New York Times, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey and two other newspapers have called for Samson, a long-time powerful lawyer in New Jersey, to step down because they say clients of his law firm have benefited from business with the bi-state transportation agency he heads.

"I understand that newspapers have an opinion," Cuomo said. "Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I disagree with them."

Separately, Pat Foye, the Port Authority's executive director who was appointed by Cuomo, recently said Samson lacked the moral authority to lead the board of commissioners.

Samson previously said he recused himself from board votes when they involved business with clients of his firm, Wolff & Samson. He has not responded to calls that he step down.

Separately, Samson's name has surfaced in connection with a New Jersey state legislative investigation into a political scandal that has upended Christie's administration and clouded any plans the Republican governor may have to run for President in 2016.

The special panel in Trenton is looking at whether Christie appointees orchestrated traffic tie ups near the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee last year and whether that action was politically motivated.

The probe's focus has centered on other officials, including a former senior Port Authority executive and a former Christie deputy in Trenton.

Samson has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but he's been subpoenaed by the panel to turn over documents.

Last month, he issued an apology as board chairman for the inconvenience caused by the traffic gridlock over five days in September.

"I trust that when the facts unfold the public will have a complete picture of what happened," he said at a Port Authority board meeting. The Port Authority oversees bridge operations.

In addition to that probe, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey is also looking into the traffic controversy.

Christie has denied any knowledge of the traffic mess until after it ended and only after it appeared in media reports. He also denies knowledge of any political mischief by his appointees.

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