"Many of the top officials at the Port Authority earn more money than the governors of the states that have jurisdiction over them."

John Wisniewski on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 in a radio interview

Many high-ranking Port Authority officials earn larger salaries than governors of New Jersey, New York, assemblyman says

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are earning close to $180,000 annually in their roles as chief executive, but most of the highest-ranking officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are doing even better.

As the Port Authority’s finances come under greater scrutiny, New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) pointed out in a recent radio interview how many of the top agency officials are earning larger salaries than the two governors charged with overseeing their operations.

"Clearly, the Port Authority is needed, because to coordinate bi-state transportation, you can’t be continually going back and forth between two cities and two states and multiple jurisdictions," Wisniewski told host John Gambling on WOR-AM. "But the Port Authority’s grown beyond its original mission. It’s now a real estate empire in addition to everything else."

Wisniewski, also chairman of the state Democratic Party, went on: "It’s become so large. Many of the top officials at the Port Authority earn more money than the governors of the states that have jurisdiction over them."

Could many top agency officials really be taking home more money than Christie and Cuomo?

That’s right, PolitiFact New Jersey found. Based on the latest data released by the Port Authority, 11 of the 12 highest-ranking agency officials earn larger annual salaries than Christie and Cuomo.

Let’s start with the governors’ paychecks.

Christie is earning an annual salary of $175,000, according to Bill Quinn, spokesman for the state Department of the Treasury.

In New York, Cuomo receives slightly more, earning $179,000 per year, said Morris Peters, spokesman for the New York State Division of the Budget. But Cuomo reimbursed the state for five percent of his 2011 salary, Peters said.

Now, let’s turn to the Port Authority officials.

In December, the transportation agency posted information on its website about annual salaries and other earnings for all of its more than 6,000 employees. To evaluate Wisniewski’s claim, we looked at annual salaries for the top 12 positions listed on the agency’s organization chart.

Here’s how the salaries for those positions break down, as of Nov. 30:

Title Person Annual Salary
Executive Director Patrick Foye $289,667
Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni $289,667
General Counsel Darrell Buchbinder $276,926
Chief Administrative Officer Louis LaCapra $251,758
Chief Operating Officer Ernesto Butcher $251,758
Chief of Capital Planning David Tweedy $251,758
Chief Financial Officer Michael Fabiano $240,032
Chief of Real Estate & Development Michael Francois $236,340
Chief Engineer Peter Zipf $219,050
Inspector General Robert Van Etten $208,468
Secretary Karen Eastman $198,328
Chief of Public & Government Affairs Jamie Loftus $165,022

So, of the 12 "top officials" at the Port Authority, 11 of them were getting larger paychecks than Christie and Cuomo.

Those figures back up Wisniewski’s statement, but it’s worth noting that even Port Authority workers at lower points in the pecking order earned more in salary and additional pay last year than the two governors' annual salaries.

For example, 65 police officers earned more than $200,000 in salary and additional pay, according to a Star-Ledger analysis.

Our ruling

In a radio interview, Wisniewski claimed, "Many of the top officials at the Port Authority earn more money than the governors of the states that have jurisdiction over them."

The assemblyman’s comments are on the money, according to data released by the Port Authority in December. Christie and Cuomo earn $175,000 and $179,000, respectively, earning less than 11 of the 12 highest-ranked Port Authority officials.

We rate the statement True.

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