Federal Prosecutors Investigating Chairman of Port AuthorityBy: Tina Volpe - March 10, 2014
Perhaps the full story will come out about the “Bridgegate Scandal” involving Gov. Chris Christie’s aides, and what part Christie actually played, as Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records related to potential conflicts of interest involving its chairman, David Samson.
Samson is a prominent New Jersey lawyer and close political ally of Gov. Christie, according to people briefed on the matter.
Mr. Samson and his law firm, Wolff & Samson, have come under intense scrutiny as a result of the business dealings involved in the intentional closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September, and the scandal that ensued. The lane closings are the subject of a separate inquiry by federal prosecutors in New Jersey, who are examining the roles of several current and former aides and allies of Christie.
Another suspicious fact in regard to Christie is that David Samson’s law firm, Wolff & Samson, has become one of the biggest bond counsel firms in New Jersey since Christie became governor in 2010.
But, the subpoenas or their connection to the bridge inquiry is still unknown, as neither of the prosecutor’s offices would issue comments on the matter. But the likely conflict of interest between Samson and Christie could just widen the scandal.
To make matters worse, for Christie that is, is that in addition to the investigation into the lane closings being conducted by the office of the United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, the scandal has led to at least one other investigation, focused in part on members of Mr. Christie’s administration.
That second scandal is the inquiry into allegations by Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer. She states that Christie’s lieutenant governor threatened to withhold hurricane “Sandy” funds if a project the governor favored was not supported.
An investigation taking place now, by the New Jersey Legislature, is focused on who ordered the closing of lane access leading to Fort Lee, NJ, and why Samson’s name ‘came up’ in emails released during the early inquiry of that scandal. The emails in question suggested that he was not concerned about the thousands of people possibly trapped in that forced traffic jam, and appeared angered by Port Authority’s Patrick J. Foye’s efforts to find out why the lanes were jammed.
Samson later received a subpoena from the committee seeking a broad range of documents and other materials including his communications, correspondence, emails, and appointment calendars. Said subpoena asking for records during that Port Authority conflict are the first indications of criminal investigations surrounding him.
Samson’s lawyer, Michael Chertoff, would not respond to questions about the subpoena, saying through a spokeswoman, “We are not commenting on the progress of investigations.”
It is unclear which conflicts were in question regarding the Port Authority subpoena, or why federal prosecutors in Manhattan had issued a subpoena at all, as Mr. Fishman’s office in New Jersey already has the bridge inquiry under investigation.
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