March 10, 2014 10:00 pm -

samsonNow this is interesting: just hours after news broke that federal prosecutors subpoenaed materials related to Port Authority boss David Samson comes this news:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan took steps to open an inquiry into Port Authority Chairman David Samson late last week, only to withdraw their subpoena for records on Monday afternoon and cede control of any potential investigation to the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, multiple sources said.

Although it was still unclear Monday night whether federal authorities in New Jersey would pick up the inquiry, the development represented a potentially troubling sign for a close adviser of Governor Christie who is the founder of a powerful law firm and was once New Jersey’s Attorney General.

Samson has come under intense scrutiny recently over his involvement in Port Authority decisions that appeared to benefit clients of his private law firm. Samson’s troubles were an outgrowth of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, set off when a separate Port Authority executive and Christie ally ordered the shutdown of access lanes to the bridge in September, apparently as an act of political retribution.

On the heels of two BridgeGhazi figures fighting to quash Assembly committee subpoenas, it nevertheless looks like federal prosecutors are interested in more than the matter of the Port Authority chairman’s involvement in a politically motivated traffic meltdown; the above update actually reinforces the notion that there is far more under scrutiny. Earlier reports had stated:

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, a prominent New Jersey lawyer and close political ally of Gov. Chris Christie, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The business dealings of Mr. Samson and his law firm, Wolff & Samson, have come under intense scrutiny as a result of the politically charged 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 Mr. Christie.

Neither of the federal prosecutor’s offices would comment on the subpoena nor on its possible connection to the bridge inquiry. But an examination of possible conflicts of interest involving Mr. Samson would appear to represent a significant widening of the scandal.

In addition to the inquiry into the lane closings, which is being conducted by the office of the New Jersey United States attorney, Paul J. Fishman, the scandal has already led to at least one other investigation by his office, focused in part on members of Mr. Christie’s administration. That inquiry is examining allegations by the mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, that Mr. Christie’s lieutenant governor threatened to withhold hurricane recovery funds if the mayor did not support a development project favored by the governor.

There is also an extensive investigation underway by a joint committee of the New Jersey legislature into who ordered the closing of the two access lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., and why. Mr. Samson’s name came up in emails released in the early days of that inquiry, and he later received a subpoena from the committee seeking his email, correspondence and other communications. Those early emails suggested that he was unconcerned that thousands of people might have been trapped in the traffic jam caused by the lane closings, but angered by the efforts of the Port Authority’s executive director, Patrick J. Foye, to get to the bottom of the jam.

Bet your bottom dollar that this also involves Samson’s hand in housing developments near a train stop undergoing massive renovation. It could be more spectacular than sharks in a hurricane.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.