A former Christie administration official lobbied NJ Transit to build a train station that would benefit a $1 billion office and residential complex being proposed for the Hoboken waterfront — the same complex the city’s mayor claimed she was pressured to fast-track or risk losing Sandy aid.
Records show that the lobbyist argued for the station within months of an agreement signed with NJ Transit to move forward on the rail project. That lobbying occurred in the spring of 2013 — the same time period that Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she was pressured by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
The lobbyist, Lori Grifa, works for Wolff & Samson, the law firm founded by former state Attorney General David Samson.
Samson is also a central figure in the crisis Governor Christie is confronting over the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Samson was appointed by Christie to be chairman of the Port Authority and met with Christie on the day The Record reported the now-infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
The lane closures and Zimmer’s claims are being probed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. A state legislative committee is conducting its own investigation of the lane closures. Dozens of subpoenas have been issued in the probes.
The Hoboken lobbying effort echoes Zimmer’s claims that there was a full-court press in the spring and summer of 2013 to get the massive project by The Rockefeller Group approved.
Grifa, the former commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, began lobbying for a new light-rail station in Hoboken on behalf of Rockefeller in the first part of 2013, according to disclosures filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. The disclosures do not require lobbyists to identify the officials they lobbied or the specific dates they met with the officials.
However, the disclosures do show that Grifa, during the first quarter of 2013, lobbied NJ Transit to promote “the development and construction of a light rail station in Hoboken.” Grifa also lobbied the governor’s office during the first quarter of 2013 to “engage in discussions regarding flood control measures, including permitting, in Hoboken.”
CNN host Candy Crowley on Sunday defended Gov. Chris Christie's (R) administration after the mayor of Hoboken claimed that the governor refused to approve Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless she supported a real estate project.