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New York Port Authority Probed by SEC Over Bridge Scandal

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the agency at the center of a scandal involving lane closings last year at the George Washington Bridge, is facing an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to bond documents released yesterday.

The authority is responding to grand jury subpoenas from federal and state prosecutors “pertaining to Port Authority’s involvement in certain specified projects and activities,” according to the papers prepared by the agency for a coming securities sale. “The Port Authority has also been advised that the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a parallel investigation in one of the matters under review.”

The Record of Bergen County first reported the probe yesterday, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the matter who said that the commission was looking into how $1.8 billion of authority money was diverted to New Jersey road projects.

Judith Burns, a spokeswoman for the commission, declined to comment.

The Port Authority, which runs the New York area’s three major airports, four bridges, a bus terminal, commuter rail, two tunnels, ports and the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, for decades has been a source of patronage and perks for politicians.

This year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been ensnared by accusations his allies at the agency engineered traffic jams last September at the George Washington Bridge, the world’s busiest span, as retribution for a mayor who ran afoul of them.

The revelations triggered the investigations and the resignations of three Port Authority officials. Reports of conflict of interest, political abuse and interstate rivalry have also spawned efforts by Port Authority commissioners and the governors to restructure the agency.

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