Home>Governor>Murphy picks tough ex-prosecutor as New Jersey’s representative on Waterfront Commission

Former First Assistant New Jersey Attorney General Jen Davenport. (Photo: Office of the Attorney General).

Murphy picks tough ex-prosecutor as New Jersey’s representative on Waterfront Commission

Governor intends to nominate Jennifer Davenport for open N.J. seat as state awaits ruling from U.S. Supreme Court on withdrawal

By David Wildstein, August 17 2022 2:00 pm

As New Jersey prepares to take their bid to withdraw from the bi-state Waterfront Commission to the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he plans to nominate a tough former prosecutor to serve as the state’s voice on the panel.

Jennifer Davenport, a former first assistant state attorney general, is Murphy’s pick to occupy the New Jersey seat on the two-member commission set up in the early 1950’s to monitor corruption at the ports of New York and New Jersey.

If confirmed by the Senate – she’ll need signoff from her two home county senators, Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) – Davenport would replace Commissioner Joseph Sanzari, who stepped down in May.

Davenport is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, acting Union County Prosecutor, and counsel to the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.  As a federal prosecutor, Davenport was the chief of the general crimes unit.

“Jen is a universally respected and accomplished attorney,” said Murphy.  “I am confident that her extensive experience in law enforcement and her steadfast commitment to public service will serve her well representing our state on the Waterfront Commission, while our administration continues the legal battle at the U.S. Supreme Court to withdraw from the entity.”

New Jersey wants out of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor in order to regain full authority over the ports, which are located in Newark, Elizabeth and Bayonne, but New York has sued to stop the state’s exit.  The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June to hear the case.

Since leaving the attorney general’s office earlier this year, Davenport has been the senior director of compliance for PSEG, the state’s largest public utility.

“If confirmed, I look forward to building on my experience in federal and state law enforcement to promote public safety and to serve with honor and integrity,” Davenport said.

The Waterfront Commission was founded in 1953 to combat a presence by organized crime at the ports.  But the commission itself has become fraught with “abuse and corruption”, according to a New York Inspector General report.

Davenport’s nomination will be formally made at the next quorum session of the Senate.

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