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Bridgegate: Jamie Fox’s Problematic Lobbying Records

Last month the seemingly unending and ever-expanding political vortex known as Bridgegate sucked in yet another major figure in New Jersey politics and government, James P. “Jamie” Fox. A story in the Bergen Record revealed that a subpoena from federal investigators to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey demanded information related to former Port Authority Chairman David Samson’s travel records and any communication he had with current Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox, previously the registered lobbyist for United Airlines.

United Airlines accounts for 70% of the flights at Newark Liberty International Airport which relies on transportation systems managed in part by the Port Authority. During Fox’s tenure as a lobbyist for United the airline setup special flights for Samson nick-named “the chairman’s flight” which provided Samson privileged flights to South Carolina where he has a home.

While Samson was receiving special favors from United Airlines the Port Authority was reviewing a multi-billion dollar proposal to extend PATH service from Newark Penn Station to the airport. The proposal was ultimately adopted and will provide considerable benefit to the airport and its largest carrier, United Airlines.

Documents received under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) show that Jamie Fox filed as a registered lobbyist for United Continental Holdings Inc. and served as the firm’s lobbyist for a period of years. Fox is a long time political insider in New Jersey – this is his second time as Transportation Commissioner and he previously served as the Chief of Staff to Governor Jim McGreevey. In between his government posts he has been extremely active in lobbying with records going back over a decade.

Much of Fox’s lobbying work – predominantly done through the firm of Fox & Shuffler – has been based on his expertise in transportation policy and politics. Primarily his expertise appears to come into play with real estate deals but he also worked for companies that have had more complex business with the state, some of which proved controversial.

For instance, Fox was the registered lobbyist for Electronic Transaction Consultants which was awarded an $88 million contract by the Port Authority to transform the agency’s toll collection system. Part of the firm’s plan includes implementing an automated toll collection system to replace toll workers.

Fox was Electronic Transaction Consultants’ lobbyist in both 2010 and 2011- when the Port Authority contract was being considered and when it was awarded.

Fox was also the registered lobbyist for American Traffic Solutions which was the firm behind the notorious red light camera program which recorded the behavior of drivers with a camera located in traffic lights in order to help towns write more citations for traffic violations. Though Fox lobbied for the adoption of the program previously,  as Transportation Commissioner he ultimately ended up having to terminate the program after it proved unpopular and unworkable.

Transportation work was Fox’s forte with filings noting that he lobbied in that area for Cablevision, Korff Enterprises, Harris Corporation, the Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers and numerous others. It seems that among those with interests in the state of New Jersey Jamie Fox was believed to be the the man to go to if you needed help in Trenton on transportation issues.

But Fox’s lobbying took him outside the realm of transportation as well working in energy for the Solar Energy Industries Association, in education for Better Education for Kids Inc and, most interestingly, picking up where Chris Christie and Bill Palatucci left off in the private prison industry.

In 2008 and 2009 Fox filed documents showing he had lobbied on behalf of Community Education Centers. CEC was previously the lobbying client of both Governor Chris Christie and Christie’s former lobbying partner and current advisor Bill Palatccuci. According to the documents, Fox lobbied for CEC to receive funds from the state budget as well as for favorable changes to policies and funding at the Department of Corrections and Parole board.

New Jersey’s halfway house program which uses CEC made national headlines when the New York Times reported that inmates had been escaping and committing crimes including murder. The halfway houses are privately run by CEC who hired Chris Chirstie and Bill Palatucci to be their lobbyists in Trenton. After Christie left lobbying to pursue public service Palatucci continued his lobbying work with CEC. Palatucci must have done well as he was hired by CEC in 2005 as a senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs – the lobbying work would be left to others such as Fox.

Who does Bridgegate hit next?

Read the documents below:

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.

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