Father of former Corbett aide expected to head Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

Posted: March 12, 2011

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is expected to select Roger E. Nutt as its new chief executive officer next week.

Nutt, father of Gov. Corbett's campaign manager and former chief of staff, Brian Nutt, was a transportation official in New Jersey in the 1990s.

The Turnpike Commission is expected to name Nutt to the post at its meeting Tuesday, according to sources close to the panel.

Neither Nutt could be reached for comment, and Turnpike Commission spokesman Carl DeFebo said he could not comment until a chief executive had been named. The top staff position at the commission has been vacant since the departure of Joseph Brimmeier in January. Brimmeier's salary was $196,753 a year.

Roger Nutt was executive director of the New Jersey Highway Authority, which operated the Garden State Parkway, from April 1994 to September 1994, and executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority from October 1994 to September 1995. He also was project director of the $330 million tunnel project built 10 years ago to link the Atlantic City Expressway to the city's Marina District and the bridge to Brigantine Island.

Brian Nutt ran Corbett's successful campaign for governor, and Corbett appointed him as his chief of staff Dec. 7. Later that month, though, Nutt withdrew to join the political-consulting firm of Brabender Cox, which handled the media for Corbett's gubernatorial campaign and his two campaigns for attorney general. Nutt, who was chief of staff in the Attorney General's Office and chief of staff of the Corbett transition team, continues to act as the governor's chief political strategist.

The elder Nutt will join an agency that has been under increased scrutiny in recent years.

The Turnpike Commission, long seen as a haven for political patronage and "pay for play" contracting, is under investigation by a grand jury in Pittsburgh. And several former employees have sued the commission, alleging they were fired for trying to expose fraud.

In March 2009, Gov. Ed Rendell fired Mitchell Rubin as commission chairman after it was disclosed that Rubin was a target of an FBI investigation related to the corruption probe of former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.).

Prosecutors said Fumo had paid Rubin $150,000 in taxpayer money from 1990 to 2004 for consulting work that Rubin never performed. Rubin later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and was sentenced last March to serve six months of house arrest and repay the $150,000.

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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