Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chris Christie's Bridgegate Scandal Reaches Chicago

The ongoing federal investigation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal has claimed a high-profile CEO from Chicago, United Continental Holdings' Jeff Smisek, who was forced to step down over favors he allegedly doled out to the embattled former Port Authority Chairman David Samson, Christie's political mentor. The latest saga started when Samson whined to Smisek over dinner about how he and his wife had to drive 147 miles to reach their vacation home in Aiken, South Carolina, while Smisek was lobbying Samson on behalf of his company.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Smisek re-established a direct flight from Newark to Columbia, South Carolina to shorten Samson's commute to his vacation home from 147 miles to 49 miles to curry favor with Samson, which insiders dubbed the "chairman's flight." In exchange, the Port Authority approved a lease of 3 acres Smisek's airline sought for a new hangar, along with $10 million to relocate the taxiway on the parcel. "It's unbelievable that anyone could be so stupid," said David Primo, a professor of political science and business administration at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester in New York. "It's very rare that you can see such an egregious quid pro quo. The probability that you're going to get caught is so high. You can't hide a flight."

If Smisek wanted to do a quid pro quo, he should have chosen Indianapolis. This is standard operating procedure here. If he had done the same thing here, the media wouldn't complain about it because our airport would have gotten another direct flight at our world class airport. Our federal and local prosecutors have long ignored rampant corruption occurring at the Indianapolis Airport Authority, particularly under the high-profile lobbyist attorney who chaired the authority for many years. Apparently Samson had a lot in common with him. "Samson has also come under scrutiny for other alleged conflicts of interest at his law firm, from which he also resigned," The Tribune reported. "[B]eyond the United allegations, there was ample evidence Samson was 'interested in using his position to advance his interests and those of his law firm' after Christie appointed him to the Port Authority."


Eric Morris said...

This is my favorite story ever. Two attorneys, Smisek and Samson, being corrupt. Government being used for personal plunder. And the fascist Chertoff of DHS is now Samson's attorney!

Gary R. Welsh said...

There's a close competition between Rahm Emanuel and Michael Chertoff to become the top shape-shifting reptilian among America's ruling elites.