Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Charges against Fox Shock Lawmakers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Charges against Fox Shock Lawmakers

Article excerpt

Jamie Fox wielded enormous influence in New Jersey for many years, holding important posts in three governors' administrations and, according to people who know him, gaining a reputation on both sides of the political aisle for being tough, fair and honest.

Democrats in his party and Republicans who worked with him cited that reputation Thursday as they expressed shock at the news that federal prosecutors had charged him with being part of a bribery scheme to aid a longtime political ally of Governor Christie.

Fox, a Democrat who served two separate stints as head of the state's Department of Transportation, began his political career more than 35 years ago working for a Bergen County freeholder.

"I feel very sad today," said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat from Teaneck who said she had known Fox for most of his adult life.

"He is a friend. I've only seen him do his job as a government employee and a lobbyist with the utmost professionalism. I am looking forward for him to have a chance to clear his name."

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Cresskill, said Fox was known for his ability to get along with members of both major political parties, and that he was efficient in his various jobs. Cardinale said he was taken aback by news of the charges.

"I've always thought of him as an honest person," Cardinale said. "It would shock me if he did something illegal."

Fox, 61, who grew up in Union Township and lives in Lambertville, resigned from his job as transportation commissioner last year amid a federal inquiry into his alleged role in helping former Port Authority Chairman David Samson pressure United Airlines to provide a flight to South Carolina, near where the chairman had a vacation home. Samson pleaded guilty to federal charges related to that flight on Thursday.

Fox, who had served as a lobbyist for United Airlines, said last year that the federal investigation played a "zero" role in his decision to leave the post. "It's part of being involved in this business," he said of the inquiry.

Christie had appointed him to be head of the DOT in 2014 in an apparent effort, which was ultimately unsuccessful, to bridge a political divide over funding the Transportation Trust Fund. …

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