Uh Oh David Samson: This is NOT the Way to Pressure Airlines for a Vacation Home Route

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AP Photo/courtesy Mel Evans)
AP Photo/courtesy Mel Evans

With the Republican convention going on this week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie is probably downing the Xanax. Maybe an extra dose.

First of all, he did not get anointed as Donald Trump’s running mate. Which may or may not be a bad thing.

But worse, his appointee to lead the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his former AG,  pleaded guilty to a bribery charge recently, admitting that he schemed with a lobbyist to delay approvals on a project just to pressure United Airlines to retain and re-launch a money-losing flight to South Carolina because of, are you ready? 

His vacation home. In Aiken, South Carolina.


David Samson, former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey pleaded guilty last Thursday to using his post and influence to pressure United Airlines to run direct flights to South Carolina. So he could visit his vacation home.

His preference: leaving Thursday evening and returning Monday morning.

Hello? I would direct flights to a few places, too. Has this guy never heard of JetShare? And does that mean he never worked Fridays?

Samson worked apparently with a lobbyist named Jamie Fox, who was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. Fox is fighting the charges. Fox once worked for United Airlines.

United is getting slapped $2.25 million in fines for its role in the scheme.

Samson’s history may even be worse now than that of our lawsuit-riddled AG Ken Paxton: he served as New Jersey’s attorney general in 2002 and 2003, and Christie appointed him to the Port Authority chairman’s post in 2011.

Samson admitted that he conspired with Fox to pressure United to reinstate the “chairman’s flight” to Columbia, South Carolina, not far from Samson’s vacation home in Aiken, by removing from a board agenda discussion of a hangar that United wanted at Newark Liberty International Airport, Fishman said.

Around the same time, Chicago-based United was also pressing for concessions from the agency, including rent reductions and a commuter rail-line extension that would connect the airport directly to lower Manhattan.

“I hope they dance to my tune—let me know if there’s a way to keep the pressure on this issue: it will save me a lot of heartache,” Samson wrote in one email to Fox released by prosecutors.

United at first declined to renew the route because it was a money loser but then did because of the pressure, prosecutors said.

Almost feel kind of sorry for United… then again…

Reader Interactions


  1. dormand says

    Perhaps the most important function of any CEO is to name executive team members having both character and competence in their field.

    As it was the New Jersey Governor’s turn to appoint the director of this massive and incredibly powerful port and airport management entity, Governor Chris Christie chose his mentor to fill this plum job,

    This piece raises a question on Governor Christie’s appointee to head the powerful Port Authority of New York and New Jersey pleading guilty to forcing United Airlines to run an unwanted route so the appointee could easily reach his second home.

    How could a US Attorney for seven years fail in due diligence on a critical executive appointment?
    Five Christie allies and top level executive appointees have either been indicted or plead guilty to federal criminal charges.

    Most US Attorneys have in depth criminal career prosecutor backgrounds.

    According to Wikipedia, Christie had no criminal law background when he was named US Attorney. He had never practiced in a federal court room. The nomination by George W. Bush for the US Attorney for New Jersey was fiercely opposed by the New Jersey bar, but the Karl Rove routed nomination rewarded this lobbyist who was a major campaign fund raiser of $350,000 for the Bush 43 campaign.

    New Jersey now has the second lowest rating of all fifty states after nine credit ratings downgrades.


    Chris Christie is the person chosen by presumptive GOP nominee Donald J. Trump to head his transition team.