One New Jersey lawmaker is questioning the qualifications of Governor Chris Christie’s most recent hire. Christie appointed Richard Bagger, a former chief of staff to the governor and a Trump transition advisor, to oversee the Hudson River rail tunnel project in an unpaid capacity Friday. Assemblyman John McKeon, co-chairman of the legislative committee investigating NJ Transit after September’s train crash in Hoboken, characterized Bagger’s appointment as a patronage hire.
Bagger had previously been one of two Port Authority officials overseeing construction of the Gateway Development Corporation last year. McKeon has been an outspoken critic of Christie’s hiring practices, questioning his appointment of spokesman Michael Drewniak as policy director at NJ Transit, a position that was created for him.
“How Mr. Bagger will find time to tackle three jobs – advisor to the transition, Celgene and NJ Transit – remains to be seen,” McKeon wrote in a statement.
McKeon went on to insinuate that Bagger played a role in the Bridgegate scandal.
“These individuals with ties to Gov. Christie’s administration make up to $170,000 per year. Several current NJ Transit employees were interviewed as part of the now-discredited Mastro report on the George Washington Bridge access lane closings and were on the witness list for the recently completed federal trial that stems from those lane closings.
“Mr. Drewniak testified in that trial. Mr. Bagger, Mr. Drewniak and the others are people who played important roles in Gov. Christie’s administration before they showed up at NJ Transit. How are they qualified for these jobs? The public deserves answers.”
The investigation into NJ Transit is ongoing, with the next hearing scheduled for December 6.