PA offers new version of Samson vote recusal

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - There’s a new explanation from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a two-year-old vote by its chairman that has raised questions of a possible conflict of interest.

Port Authority board meeting minutes from February 2012 reflect chairman David Samson voting to approve a favorable lease extension for a New Jersey Transit park-and-ride lot. Samson’s law firm represented NJ Transit. This week, a Port Authority lawyer sent a letter to Samson saying a review showed Samson meant to recuse himself from the vote but that the vote was mis-recorded.

The Record newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1bRTCnU ) Friday that the Port Authority now says the vote was actually taken by an operations committee because not enough board members were present.

Meeting minutes from the Feb. 9, 2012 board meeting were formally adopted at the Port Authority’s meeting the next month and are contained in an archive on the agency’s website. They show that six board members, including Samson, voted to approve the NJ Transit deal.

Minutes of the operations committee from the same date reflect that Samson called a special meeting of the committee because there wouldn’t be enough board members to constitute a quorum. The minutes show the committee considering three matters - involving Newark Liberty Airport runway work, World Trade Center parking and an environmental lawsuit - but not the NJ Transit lease.

A Port Authority spokesman said in an email Friday that “with the Chairman’s recusal on the Lincoln Tunnel Park & Ride Lot item, the item automatically moved to the Committee on Operations, where there was a quorum and sufficient number of votes to pass the item.”

Samson, a member of Gov. Chris Christie’s transition team whom Christie appointed to the Port Authority, has had his name mentioned in connection with lane closures at the George Washington Bridge last fall that were apparently ordered by a Christie aide. The mayor of Hoboken has alleged that Christie administration officials tied her city’s Superstorm Sandy aid to her approval of a redevelopment project whose developer was represented by Samson’s law firm.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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