New Jersey’s outgoing transportation chief said Tuesday that an investigation into whether United Airlines engaged in criminal activities while he lobbied on the company’s behalf didn’t affect his decision to resign.
Jamie Fox spoke briefly after a business conference in the Meadowlands. Fox announced last week he would resign at the end of the month, a little more than a year after being appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.
The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey is investigating the relationship between United Airlines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over United’s lease at Newark Liberty Airport and its short-lived flights from Atlantic City Airport.
One of the areas under investigation is a flight United restarted between Newark and South Carolina, near the vacation home of then-Port Authority chairman David Samson, at a time when United was negotiating with the Port Authority about Newark airport. Fox was a lobbyist for United at the time.
United’s CEO and two other executives resigned last month in what the company said was a result of its internal investigation into the matter.
Asked Tuesday whether the probe had any effect on his decision, Fox replied: “Zero.”
“I knew that it was going to be a finite period of time when I took the job, and I did my best to get the Transportation Trust Fund funded,” he said. “You just move on in your life sometimes when you believe that maybe you’re not the best person to do that job.”
Asked whether the probe was a distraction, Fox added, “It’s part of being in government.”
Authorities also have subpoenaed records relating to United’s flights from Atlantic City that the airline began in 2014 and discontinued less than a year later. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, United wasn’t made to pay back more than $100,000 in marketing money to the South Jersey Transportation Authority as stipulated under terms of its contract.
Fox was chairman of the SJTA board by then, though his spokesman said he didn’t vote on the decision because no official vote was taken.
Early in his tenure as transportation commissioner, Fox broached the idea of raising New Jersey’s gas tax, currently among the lowest in the country, to help replenish the depleted Transportation Trust Fund. Christie had resisted the idea, but recently he indicated it was a possibility if it could be balanced by tax cuts elsewhere.
State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who has known Fox for more than three decades, told The Associated Press Monday that Fox told her that he was resigning after Christie signed a pledge in August not to raise taxes. Christie is seeking the Republican nomination for president.
Fox told Tuesday’s panel sponsored by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber that he felt the state had moved closer to resolving the trust fund debate since he began as commissioner.
This article was written by David Porter from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.