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Christie appoints new head of Port Authority

Craig D. Frazier | 5/15/2014, 4:19 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has nominated a former state attorney general to become the new face of the Port Authority. John Degnan, 69, a registered Democrat, replaces David Samson, who resigned last month amid an aftermath of suspicion in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.

The bridge scandal forced the resignations late last year of former Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee, and former Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein. Early reports portrayed Wildstein as the orchestrator of the lane closings, while Baroni said the lane closings were part of a traffic study.

The lane closures are being investigated in New Jersey by both lawmakers and the U.S. attorney’s office. The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed Port Authority records from the World Trade Center rebuilding project and other projects.

“I was thrilled that John was willing to step forward and serve one more time in a very high profile and public role,” Christie said in a statement. “We need him as quickly as possible as we confront a number of problems and different challenges that we have.”

Christie is attempting to move on and prepare a possible run for the White House.

“I wanted someone with unquestionable credentials both politically, from a partisan perspective, and from, most importantly, an issue of integrity,” Christie said.

Degnan says the governor is giving him free reign to try and clean up the Port Authority.

“I have the governor’s mandate to be independent and open-minded about the task, for which I’m very grateful,” Degnan said.