Christie Names Replacement for Shamed Port Authority Chair, but Corruption Could Be Tough to Shake

It's hard to imagine that a personnel change at the top will make a fundamental difference at Port Authority if the culture of abuse of its authority and resources, directed from the inner offices of the New Jersey governor, continues. There's scant evidence it will as long as the Port Authority is structured as it is, with great discretionary powers of both governors, and with one governor playing political games with an Authority budget larger than that of ten states.

Gov. Christie has just announced his choice to replace Port Authority Chair David Samson. It is John Degnan, 69.

"He is a person of unquestioned integrity."
              - Gov. Christie, discussing Degnan

The Port Authority is a subject of investigations at both the federal and state level, with the Authority enmeshed in both the Bridgegate and Hoboken scandals.

Degnan was vice-chair and COO of The Chubb Corporation, which has its HQ in Warren, New Jersey. He retired four years ago, but continued in a consulting relationship with Chubb since then. From 1978-1981, he was state AG under Gov. Brendan Byrne, at 33 one of the youngest in New Jersey history to serve in that capacity. In 1981, he resigned that post to run in the Democratic primary for governor, finishing with 11 percent of the vote in a crowded field.

Having served on Gov. Christie's task force to stop violence and on a separate judicial advisory panel, Degnan has already worked closely with the administration. And despite his democratic ties, not everyone is sold on his nomination as a bipartisan token:

"John Degnan went in the tank when he participated in Christie’s hand-chosen group of attorney’s to support a replacement for Justice Wallace," said Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a member of the Judiciary Committee. "Just like Dave Sampson, another former AG, he can’t be expected to be an independent watchdog of an agency that has been exploited for political and personal gain."

The Ledger has more on Degnan's bio, and relationship with Gov. Christie.  

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