The head of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority said he plans to retire from the post he has held for the past five years.
George Zoffinger said Jan. 30 he had yet not submitted a letter of resignation, but told New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine about three weeks ago that he planned to retire and would “stay around until we had a smooth transition.” Corzine spokesman Anthony Coley said the governor has accepted Zoffinger's resignation.
“We appreciate his service and look forward to a smooth and orderly transition,” Coley said.
Zoffinger, a former banking executive, was appointed by former Gov. James McGreevey to the $195,000-a-year job heading the agency that operates the Meadowlands sports complex, which is home to the Jets, Giants, Nets, Devils, and Meadowlands racetrack. The NJSEA also operates racing at Monmouth Park, which this year will host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Zoffinger was involved in New Jersey seeking the Breeders’ Cup. In early January, Chris McErlean, the NJSEA 'spoint man on the Breeders’ Cup project, left his executive position to take a job with Penn National Gaming Inc.
Zoffinger said his retirement was not prompted by an interview with the state's inspector general, Mary Jane Cooper, whom he said is doing a review of the legal hiring at all of the state authorities.
Zoffinger's son, Richard, is an attorney at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, the same law firm that does work for the NJSEA as general counsel, he said. Anthony Coscia, chairman of the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a partner in the firm's New Brunswick office. Richard Zoffinger is listed as an associate in the firm's New York office.
Zoffinger said Cooper interviewed him, Carl Goldberg, chairman of the authority, and Goldberg's predecessor, Joe Buckelew. Zoffinger said Buckelew told her that Zoffinger “had nothing to do with hiring (the law firm).”
Zoffinger said his son joined the firm in 1998, the firm was hired by the sports authority in 1999 or 2000, and he took over the job as chief executive officer in 2002. He called the swirl around an “ethics investigation” typical New Jersey politics.
“It’s the reason that good people just don’t get involved in New Jersey anymore,” he said.
Zoffinger said he plans to retire to a house in Pennsylvania, and his work is done at the sports authority.