Senate Judiciary Committee expected to confirm Port Authority nominees, Lesniak calls Degnan ‘disastrous’

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to confirm two nominees for positions at the Port Authority at their hearing today, according to members on the committee.

Both state Senators Ray Lesniak (D-20) and Kevin O’Toole (R-40) said they expect the nominees to be pushed through without a hitch, though Lesniak noted he’s not happy about at least one of the names.

“I think [John Degnan] is a disastrous nominee,” Lesniak told PolitickerNJ. “There’s already three strikes against him.”

Lesniak said Degnan, who’s been named by Gov. Chris Christie to replace former chairman David Samson at the embattled agency, is a poor candidate for the position, given his closeness to the governor. He cites Degnan’s work as co-chair of Christie’s Gun Violence Task Force as one instance of that closeness, arguing that the retired Chubb Corporation CEO failed to implement any gun control regulations following last year’s Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

Degnan is a Democrat and was New Jersey’s youngest-ever state attorney general under Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne. The other nominee, George Laufenberg of Hoboken, a New Jersey official of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, has been named to replace former Port Authority commissioner Anthony Sartor.

For Laufenberg, Lesniak said his litmus test will be whether the nominee is open to the idea of pressing the Port Authority to scrap a program that gives New York and New Jersey’s governors partial control of $950 million for pet projects over the next 10 years and committing the money to infrastructure improvements, including the renovation of a Manhattan bus terminal.

Other members of the committee, including Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37), have already expressed their support for the nominees.

O’Toole will not be attending the hearing, but said he believes the decision to approve the Degnan and Laufenberg nominations has already been worked out. 

Senate Judiciary Committee expected to confirm Port Authority nominees, Lesniak calls Degnan ‘disastrous’