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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.
This doesn't appear to be part of the Fort Lee lane closure investigation, even though Samson was wrapped up in that as well. Instead, as the Times puts it, the news "would appear to represent a significant widening of the scandal."
According to people familiar with the matter, Manhattan federal prosecutors were specifically interested in any conflicts between Mr. Samson's private business interests and his actions as chairman of the sprawling bi-state authority, which oversees Hudson River crossings into New York City, airports, the PATH rail system and the World Trade Center complex.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Samson, a former New Jersey state attorney general, declined to comment, passing on a statement from Mr. Samson's attorney, Michael Chertoff: "We are not commenting on the progress of investigations."
Samson's firm represented the real estate developer whose Hoboken project was at the center of allegations about Sandy aid corruption leveled by the city's mayor against the Christie administration earlier this year. Since Christie became governor, income at its lobbying practice has soared by $12.2 million, making Samson one of the many "Friends of Christie" to turn their connection to the governor into gold. And now federal prosecutors appear interested in an important question: With cronyism rampant, were laws broken?
3:34 PM PT: It turns out the subpoenas were withdrawn earlier Monday. The exact explanation is unclear, but it it doesn't seem like an "all clear sign" for Christie-land. Rather, it seems like it may be a jurisdictional issue, with the the New Jersey side of the federal investigation taking ownership of any conflict of interest investigation rather than Manhattan.