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Report: Wolff & Samson profited from Port Authority takeover of Atlantic City airport

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Port Authority Chairman David Samson is a founding member of Wolff & Samson.
Port Authority Chairman David Samson is a founding member of Wolff & Samson. - (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Wolff & Samson, the West Orange-based law firm cofounded by Port Authority chairman David Samson, profited off a deal struck by the agency last year to takeover Atlantic City International Airport, according to a report Tuesday by WNYC.

WNYC reports that just weeks before Gov. Chris Christie appointed Samson to his position at the Port Authority, Samson's law firm was hired as bond counsel by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the agency that formerly ran the struggling airport and is chaired by state transportation commissioner James Simpson.

Over the next two years, Wolff & Samson reported earnings of $113,701.32 and is still currently retained by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, according to WNYC.

During Samson's tenure at the Port Authority, his firm has also profited from work done for other transportation agencies such as NJ Transit and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, WNYC reports.

While Samson recused himself from the Port Authority vote to acquire the airport, he did vote for a $256 million upgrade of Harrison's PATH station despite representing nearby property owners, a move that the radio station has previously reported.

Last month, WNYC reported that Wolff & Samson's lobbying business increased from $40,000 annually prior to Christie's first election to more than $1 million per year afterward. Additionally, the firm's municipal bond counsel businesses quadrupled during Christie's tenure, going from handling $2.4 billion worth of bond sales under Gov. Jon Corzine to more than $10 billion under Christie.

Samson, a former state attorney general under Gov. Jim McGreevey, has come under fire in the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal for emails hinting at his involvement in the matter appearing in subpoenaed documents. A longtime ally of Christie's, Samson has denied having a role in the lane closures and has received the support of the governor.

Wolff & Samson has also been linked to allegations made by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief aid from her city if she did not approve a development project being put forth by the Rockefeller Group, which the firm represented at the time.

The Rockefeller Group cut ties with Wolff & Samson last month.

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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