Samuel Johnson, the CEO of the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies submitted an official resignation today, pledging to leave by Nov. 25 amid an ongoing misconduct investigation into him.
It’s unclear what exact misconduct is being investigated, but acting CEO Valarie McFall confirmed it was “personnel related,” in a Friday morning phone interview.
“It was just personnel related and that’s why all of that is kept confidential, but it has nothing related to financial malfeasance,” McFall said.
Johnson had been on administrative leave since Sept. 5 after the agency’s board of directors voted to remove him, and they’d brought in an outside firm to investigate him over “serious allegations of misconduct,” but never clarified what the alleged misconduct was.
Before the investigation was completed, Johnson resigned.
“This investigation included interviews with numerous individuals and reviews of various types of information. Before our Boards could act on the findings of the investigation, Mr. Johnson submitted his resignation,” said Yorba Linda Councilwoman Peggy Huang and Newport Beach Councilman Will O’Neill, in the Friday news release.
The two serve as the chairs for the agency’s two separate boards.
The agencies are responsible for managing all the toll roads in Orange County, including the 73, 133, 241 and 261 toll roads.
The agency has faced a lot of questions over why it still exists for years, with San Clemente bailing out altogether amid a grand jury report that questioned if it still provided any public benefit or just an additional tax burden.
“The agency has achieved most of its original goals, including construction of highways, growth in ridership, financial stability, and robust toll-collection. It survived a recession, a pandemic, a debt crisis, and some political battles. It is finally in a position to execute a proactive financial strategy,” OC Grand Jurors found.
They also question what’s next for the agency.
“The TCA’s operations and future direction should be of great interest to Orange County leaders and residents. The Toll Roads provide an essential service, but they also impose substantial costs. In addition, the county has three other transportation agencies, and this is an opportune moment to consider the TCA’s role,” reads the Grand Jury report.
San Clemente left the agency after years of debate over putting a toll road through the city, suing the agency and pledging there would never be a tollroad through their city.
A search for Johnson’s permanent replacement will likely begin early next year according to McFall, who also confirmed Johnson will not be receiving any severance pay.
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