Following Thursday’s article in the The Record which reported that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Port Authority for records related to the personal travel of the agency’s former chairman, David Samson, as well as his relationship with Newark Liberty International Airport’s largest carrier, United Airlines, two New Jersey state Senators spoke out in support of a prominent state official mentioned in connection with the reported subpoena: New Jersey Commissioner of Transportation Jamie Fox.
Fox’s name surfaced in connection with a subpoena issued last month that appears to be part of an investigation into a flight route begun by United between Newark and South Carolina, where Samson has a home, while Samson was chairman of the Port Authority, which oversees the region’s airports.
The subpoena demands, among other things, any communications Samson had with United and its former lobbyist, Jamie Fox, a friend of Samson’s who lobbied for the airline in the private sector before he took his current position last year. The subpoena also points to a recent pattern indicating that the scope of the almost 13-month-long federal investigation led by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman has widened beyond the cause of the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closings, also known as Bridgegate.
Samson and Fox served together in the administration of former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey as attorney general and transportation commissioner, respectively.
Yet two Republican state Senators who voted in their capacity as state Senate Judiciary Committee members to forward Fox’s nomination to become transportation commissioner again under Gov. Chris Christie for approval by the full state Senate concurred that Fox, a Democrat, still had their support.
“The guy answered all the questions [from the committee]. He seemed like a professional,” said state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23). “I don’t think you can’t vote for the guy because you’re disappointed that he’s not a Republican. He was the governor’s choice, and he has an accomplished record.”
State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-39) noted that believes that Fox can still get done what is the most pressing task in front of him – fixing the ailing state Transportation Trust Fund.
“United is not a tiny little company. They have thousands of employees,” Cardinale said. “We all know Mr. Fox very well because he’s worked in state government previously. I think that he’s highly ethical because of my prior experience with him, and I think he’s quite competent. You look for competent people.”
It is unclear right now what role, if any, Fox might have played. As of now, he has not been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney.