Filing shows wide range of data sought from Port Authority
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A recent bond filing has captured the breadth of information sought by local and federal authorities from the embattled Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the nearly 18 months since revelations surfaced about targeted lane closings at the George Washington Bridge.
The notice to potential bond buyers is dated Tuesday and describes a litany of projects and activities for which information has been sought, by subpoena or official request, by the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey, the Manhattan district attorney's office, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state-level investigative bodies in New Jersey.
The U.S. attorney's office has been investigating the September 2013 lane closures, which appear from emails and text messages to have been orchestrated by allies of Republican Gov. Chris Christie as a form of political payback against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse his re-election bid.
Christie, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, has not been directly connected to the scheme and has denied any prior knowledge of it. A taxpayer-funded report he commissioned absolved him of wrongdoing.
Recent subpoenas and interviews by the U.S. attorney's office appear to signal the investigation into the lane closings is winding down. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the status of the investigation.
While a good portion of the subpoenaed information listed in the bond filing relates to the lane closings, records from numerous other areas have been targeted at the Port Authority, a massive bistate agency that operates ports, bridges, tunnels and airports in the New York metropolitan area and owns the World Trade Center site.
- A redevelopment project in Hoboken, subject of accusations by Democratic Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Christie officials tied her city's Superstorm Sandy aid to her approval of a project whose developer was represented by then-Port Authority chairman David Samson's law firm. Samson was a top Christie appointee at the agency.
- The procurement process for large-scale construction projects at the Bayonne and Goethals bridges.
- Potential conflicts of interest involving Samson, the recently retired founding partner of one of New Jersey's most powerful law firms.
- Flights taken by Samson between Newark and South Carolina, where he owns a home, on a United Airlines route that, according to published reports, was discontinued three days after his resignation as chairman in 2014.
- A proposed extension of PATH rail service to Newark Liberty International Airport and United's short-lived flight service out of Atlantic City International Airport.
- Planned meetings between Port Authority officials and Democratic Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who has alleged the officials canceled the meetings after he declined to endorse Christie's re-election bid.
- The cancellation of a multibillion-dollar rail tunnel project into Manhattan in 2010.
- The approximately $1 billion renovation of the 83-year-old Pulaski Skyway in northern New Jersey.
Samson, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the subpoenas Thursday. He announced his retirement from the Wolff & Samson law firm this week, and the firm said it was changing its name.
Details from the bond filing were first reported by The Record newspaper.