Port Authority Commissioner Sartor Quits Following Samson

Anthony Sartor resigned after serving 15 years on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, becoming the second commissioner to exit as the agency is probed by federal and local prosecutors.

Sartor, 71, the board’s longest-serving member, stepped down almost a year after his term ended, citing his desire to spend more time with family, according to a letter he sent to the authority today.

“Timing for such things is never perfect for all concerned,” Sartor wrote. “But for one of the first times in my public life, I have allowed my personal and family priorities to prevail.”

His departure follows that of David Samson, chairman of the 10-member board and a close ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who resigned last month amid investigations into the politically motivated closing of lanes of the George Washington Bridge.

The authority, which runs the New York City area’s three major airports, four bridges, commuter rail, two tunnels and the World Trade Center redevelopment, is the subject of three probes. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is investigating whether it improperly financed the $1 billion renovation of the Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark and a state legislative panel are investigating the bridge closures.

Internal Probe

The lawmakers are examining which of Christie’s aides and allies at the Port Authority ordered closings of the bridge’s access lanes in Fort Lee, whose Democratic mayor declined to endorse Christie’s re-election. The governor, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, has seen his popularity slide amid the scandal.

An internal investigation commissioned by Christie concluded that he had nothing to do with the traffic tie-ups, blaming them on Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff, and David Wildstein, once a top Port Authority official.

Sartor is the chief operating officer for Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor, an architectural and engineering firm in Warren, New Jersey. He was most recently reappointed by former Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat.

Over the last year, Sartor recused himself or didn’t vote on 36 of 85 motions because of potential conflicts of interest, according to a review by the Asbury Park Press newspaper. Over the last five years, he was recused on 203 votes.

“He’s offered to do anything he can to help with the transition,” Bob Zito, a spokesman for Sartor, said by phone today.

Chris Valens, a Port Authority spokesman, declined to comment. Michael Drewniak and Kevin Roberts, spokesmen for Christie, didn’t immediately return e-mails asking for comment.