(Adds details about Degnan; quote from lawmaker)
By Hilary Russ
April 29 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said
on Tuesday he has tapped former state Attorney General John
Degnan to chair the board of the embattled Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey.
The board's former chairman, David Samson, resigned in March
amid reports that federal prosecutors in Manhattan were looking
into a potential conflict of interest between Samson's role as
chairman and his private law firm.
The bi-state authority has come under intense scrutiny since
the so-called Bridgegate scandal erupted early this year, when
it was revealed that top aides to Christie, often mentioned as a
Republican presidential contender in 2016, were behind a massive
traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in September.
The incident, which is now the subject of multiple state and
federal investigations, appeared to have been orchestrated as
payback for a New Jersey mayor for endorsing Christie's
This is not the first time Christie has called on Degnan, a
Democrat. In the wake of the deadly elementary school shooting
rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Christie appointed
Degnan to co-chair a state task force on violence prevention.
Degnan served as Attorney General from 1978 to 1981 for
former Governor Brendan Byrne, under whom he was also chief
counsel. The Harvard Law School graduate joined insurance giant
Chubb Corp in 1990 as general counsel, and went on to become
chief operating officer before retiring in 2010.
His appointment must be approved both by the
Democrat-controlled New Jersey Senate and the board of the Port
"Frankly, it can't get much worse at the Port Authority, so
any change should be beneficial," said New Jersey Assembly
Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski, who co-chairs a special
legislative panel investigating the bridge closures.
But Wisniewski also said Degnan's strong resume and
experience "makes me hopeful he will be an independent partner
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; editing by Edith Honan and Gunna