McKeon Demands Answers on Christie Cronies at NJ Transit

Seeks Answers on Ex-Christie Staffers without Transportation Experience now Working at NJ Transit

Assembly Judiciary Chairman John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris) released the following statement Friday after questioning NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro as part of hearings on the mass transit agency’s safety and operations:

“It’s already becoming clear that one of the top concerns regarding NJ Transit’s safety and operations is whether this all-important agency is being run by qualified professionals. I am deeply concerned that many top NJ Transit officials have no business working at a mass transit agency.

“A leading example of that is the appointment of Gov. Christie’s former press secretary, Michael Drewniak, as a NJ Transit chief of staff, a position created for him in which he has no apparent qualifications, but he’s not the only one raising concern.

“I have identified 10 individuals working top jobs within NJ Transit with ties to Gov. Christie’s administration who have no apparent transportation experience and make up to $170,000 per year. Several current NJ Transit employees were interviewed as part of the now-discredited Mastro report on the George Washington Bridge access lane closings and were on the witness list for the recently completed federal trial that stems from those lane closings. Mr. Drewniak testified in that trial. These are people who played important roles in Gov. Christie’s administration before they showed up at NJ Transit. How are they qualified for these jobs? The public deserves answers.

“Let’s not forget that in 2010, Gov. Christie withheld NJ Transit funding and vowed to ‘end patronage hiring.’ Gov. Christie’s actions unfortunately don’t seem to match those words.

“Only two of these people were identified in NJ Transit’s response to our inquiries about key staff. Clearly, NJ Transit was not responsive to our request, and that is not acceptable.

“I expect NJ Transit to provide the Legislature with a list of all employees hired after January 2010 earning at least $70,000, including their date of hire, job description, resume and whether this person is working in a newly created position. Failure to comply with this request with result in a subpoena.

“New Jersey commuters need to know their safety is in the hands of qualified professionals, not political cronies.”