Some Question PA Chairman’s Vote to Renovate Harrison PATH Station

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

When Port Authority Chairman David Samson voted to renovate the Harrison PATH station, did he know it would benefit a client of Wolff and Samson, his law firm?

That was a question raised by The Record this morning.

Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough says when the station is rehabbed in three years it will attract new residents to the town.

“It’s gonna be a draw. Let’s face it. New York is so costly to live there. Hoboken. Jersey City. What’s next on the PATH line? Harrison,” McDonough said.

Harrison is an old industrial town across the river from Newark.

The PATH station, built in the 1930s without handicap access, sits directly across from Red Bull Arena and overflows on game days.

The area has long been targeted by redevelopers.

A group called BRG won approval from the town to tear down a warehouse and build 300 apartments and a parking garage.

BRG’s law firm is Wolff and Samson, and BRG clearly benefits from a $256 million PATH station upgrade.

A spokeswoman for Samson told NJTV News the upgrade will benefit thousands of commuters, adding, “Throughout his decades of public service and now as chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson has always held himself to the highest personal and professional standards, including consistently complying with applicable rules adopted by the Port Authority.”

Samson is one of Gov. Chris Christie’s closest confidantes and a pillar of the New Jersey legal community.

But since his name surfaced in a bridge scandal email saying he would help the New Jersey side of the Port Authority retaliate against the New York side, he has been subpoenaed by the legislature.

He hired top gun Michael Chertoff as his lawyer, then added top gun Angelo Genova last week.

McDonough, meanwhile, was the first Democratic mayor to endorse Christie last year, and some say it was for the sake of the PATH station.

“The money was appropriated before I endorsed him. The money was appropriated by the Port Authority before I endorsed him,” McDonough said.

Wolff and Samson, it’s worth noting, has 120 lawyers.

Samson’s vote to upgrade the PATH station may well have been innocent, and there is no doubt it’s badly needed. But the news that it benefited one of his clients is like another turn of the screw if you’re building a case against Team Christie.