TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — With a spotlight on the Port Authority and its business dealings, multiple published reports Monday said Manhattan federal prosecutors were looking into whether there were any conflicts of interest between David Samson’s private business interests and his actions as chairman of the sprawling bistate agency.
But later in the day, other reports emerged saying subpoenas for information were withdrawn without explanation. Sources said New Jersey’s U.S. attorney, who has already opened up an investigation into September’s controversial George Washington Bridge lane closures in Fort Lee, would likely handle an inquiry into Samson.
A series of votes taken by Samson as a Port Authority commissioner have raised ethical questions because they appear to benefit clients of his private law firm.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the New Jersey legislative panel investigating a political payback scandal say a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie has shown no valid legal purpose for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
Monday’s response was to a court filing on behalf of former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, who is seeking to quash the subpoena.
The legislators want Kelly to turn over emails, text messages and other documents that involve a plot to block traffic near the George Washington Bridge, possibly as political payback against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who did not endorse Christie in his re-election bid last year. Her attorneys have argued that the Fifth Amendment protects her from being forced to provide the documents.
Two-time Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien is also fighting to have his subpoena withdrawn.
Oral arguments are set for Tuesday.
More than a dozen individuals and organizations close to Christie have complied with similar subpoenas.
Documents that were subpoenaed earlier and released showed that Kelly gave the go-ahead to shut down the lanes in Fort Lee. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote in one text.
Stepien had also exchanged texts with Kelly discussing the lane closures.
Christie has denied having any knowledge of the plot beforehand.
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