This Time, It’s Not a Bridge – It’s a Plane



New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talks to Bill Baroni, right, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, during the New Jersey Transportation Conference, Wednesday, March 2, 2011, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

It was only two years ago that the first scandal of New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, came to light. It began on September 3, 2013 on the George Washington Bridge, which is considered the busiest bridge in the world. Two out of the three toll lanes were inexplicably closed during morning rush hour. This led to severe traffic congestion and delays for students trying to get to school, as well as severely extending the response times of emergency personnel, causing one person to die of cardiac arrest. At first, the Port Authority tried to pass the lane closure off as a “traffic experiment,” but it wasn’t long before the various texts and emails that the Christie administration and Port Authority sent to organize the lane closure started coming to light. This incident was tracked back to Governor Christie and his old high school friends who he had appointed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The investigation led to the suspicion that Governor Christie had orchestrated the lane closures as a form of retribution against the Mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, who did not support Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.

Now the “blowhard of New Jersey” has been implicated in a new scandal dubbed “The Chairman’s Flight.” The scandal began in 2013 when the chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson (one of Christie’s high school friends he appointed to office), began meeting with United Airlines officials to discuss expanding service to Atlantic City and extending the PATH train to Newark Airport. Christie and the officials, including Executive VP of Communications Nene Foxhall and Senior VP of Corporate and Government Affairs Mark Anderson, were discussing expanding service to Atlantic City, and an extension of the PATH train to Newark airport. While the negotiations were in progress, United organized non-stop flights between Newark, New Jersey and Columbia, South Carolina as a way of bribing Mr. Samson, who owns a vacation house in South Carolina. And while these flights were occurring, only 56% percent of the seats were sold, whereas United typically prefers to fill an average of 84% of the seats. United incidentally discontinued the flights only three days after Samson resigned on March 28, 2014, due to the continuing Bridgegate investigation.

Against the overwhelming evidence of their corruption, the CEO of United and the two previously mentioned United officials resigned abruptly on September 8. United commented “the departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.” This investigation is currently underway, and it continues to reflect poorly on Christie’s campaign for the Republican nomination for president.