Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fox Says Probe Had 'Zero' Role in Exit

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fox Says Probe Had 'Zero' Role in Exit

Article excerpt

Jamie Fox, a longtime player in New Jersey politics who on Friday announced his resignation as the state's transportation commissioner, said Tuesday that his decision to quit was unrelated to an ongoing federal probe into negotiations between Port Authority officials and United Airlines, which had employed Fox as a lobbyist.

Fox came under fire last week after The Record and others reported that he sat in on a closed-door meeting in November -- a month after leaving his lobbyist job -- that resulted in a decision by a state agency to forgive a $104,000 potential penalty against United Airlines. Fox has also faced questions about his role in the initiation of a United flight route between Newark and a South Carolina airport near the weekend home of the former Port Authority chairman, David Samson, Fox's close friend at the time. That flight is the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

In his first public appearance since he announced his resignation, Fox spoke as part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce on the future of transportation and employment in North Jersey. When asked after the panel whether there was a connection between the investigation and his resignation, Fox said: "Zero."

Fox also was asked whether he quit because the scandal, and growing media interest in his potential role in it, was becoming a distraction for him in his role as transportation commissioner.

"No," said Fox. "It's part of being involved in this business."

Christie's office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Worked for Torricelli

Fox has had a long career in the business of New Jersey politics, including as a chief of staff to former Democratic Rep. Robert Torricelli and an earlier stint as transportation commissioner under Gov. James McGreevey. Later he co-founded the lobbying firm of Fox & Shuffler, which counted United Airlines among its clients.

Fox does not qualify for a full pension but is eligible to collect around $25,000 a year in state retirement benefits. According to state data, Fox, 61, will have accrued 13 years and seven months as a state employee by the time he leaves his post at the end of October. …

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