On the same day that he was in the final throes of the Trump VP search, one of his closest political allies David Samson, was standing before a federal judge pleading guilty to one count of bribery for shaking down United Airlines in his role as chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, a position to which Christie appointed him.
Samson admitted in open court that he convinced United Airlines to schedule a once a week flight from Newark to South Carolina, where Samson had a second home, in exchange for his insuring that the airline’s agenda items were considered by the Port Authority. Last September, Jeff Smisek, United’s CEO, and two of his top lieutenants, were fired by the airline for their alleged role in the bribery conspiracy.
Samson’s guilty plea, and the charging the same day of Jamie Fox, Christie’s former transportation commissioner, brings to five the number of people that Christie picked for high-level positions became the focus of federal prosecutors over allegations of public corruption. According to court documents, Fox was acting as a lobbyist for United when he allegedly helped facilitate the deal.
“Public corruption is a different from other crimes in that it strikes at the heart of good government but also jeopardizes the security of of our nation,” Timothy Gallagher, FBI Special Agent told reporters at the roll out of the Samson-Fox case last week. “Public corruption erodes public confidence in our democracy.”