Lobbying Honcho Parts Ways With NJ Firm Wolff & Samson

Law360, New York (April 17, 2015, 7:21 PM ET) -- New Jersey law firm Wolff & Samson PC is undergoing more change following the announced retirement of a founding partner who has faced scrutiny from federal prosecutors, with its director of government affairs departing with plans to start a new lobbying firm.

Karen J. Kominsky's last day with Wolff & Samson was April 15, a spokesman for the firm said Friday. A little more than a week earlier, the West Orange, New Jersey-based firm announced the retirement of co-founder David Samson — an apparent figure in a wide-ranging investigation of potential abuses at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — and said it will change its name to Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC.

Kominsky is launching the new lobbying shop, K Street Partners, in partnership withFlorio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader LLC, which has about 40 attorneys and five offices in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, a spokeswoman with that firm confirmed. Kominsky declined comment through the firm, whose law partners including former Gov. Jim Florio.

The state director of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in New Jersey in 2008 and a former deputy vice chair of the New Jersey State Democratic Party, Kominsky was a driving force behind Wolff & Samson Public Affairs LLC, whose high-profile clients last year included Honeywell International Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wolff & Samson and its lobbying arm had more than $753,000 in combined receipts in 2014, according to reports with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, which list Kominsky's salary and compensation as $215,455.

While Kominsky may be out the door, Wolff & Samson will be maintaining its public affairs group, the firm's spokesman said.

Kominsky's many government and lobbying positions over the years have included time as deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Jim McGreevey and former Acting Gov. Richard Codey, as her now-removed biography with Wolff & Samson notes. Kominsky was also a deputy commissioner with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Before joining Wolff & Samson, Kominsky was a government affairs and strategic communications consultant with ADV Group LLC, which she founded.

Kominsky's exit is the latest sign of a firm in flux as it tries to move past the negative attention on Samson.

A former New Jersey attorney general and former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Samson has been in the spotlight since the politically tainted closure of George Washington Bridge access lanes in September 2013, which involved an aide to Gov. Chris Christie and Christie allies at the Port Authority who have also stepped down.

The infamous closures jammed traffic in Fort Lee and some suspect, involved some kind of ill will against the town's mayor. Christie himself has denied any involvement or prior knowledge.

After opening a probe into “Bridgegate,” federal prosecutors reportedly sought information concerning alleged conflicts on the part of Samson, who has been accused of improperly involving himself in decisions that benefited clients of his firm, as well as personal flights he took from New Jersey to a weekend retreat in South Carolina.

“For personal, professional and health reasons I have made the decision to retire,” Samson said in a statement earlier this month. “After my five decades practicing law, it was time for new leaders to transition the firm for the future."

Samson resigned as chairman of the Port Authority in March 2014.

Kominsky isn't the only high-profile departure for the firm in recent months.

In January, Archer & Greiner PC announced that former New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa had left Wolff & Samson to join its Hackensack office and also become a director with Archer Public Affairs LLC.

While at Wolff & Samson, Grifa was caught up in Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allegations that officials with the Christie administration threatened the withholding of Hurricane Sandy funding if she didn't aid a stalled development project of theRockefeller Group. Grifa was among the lobbyists that Rockefeller hired to advance the project.

“I think the whole thing was unfounded and unfortunate, and I'm very pleased that it's well in my rearview mirror,” Grifa said earlier this year.

--Additional reporting by Dan Packel. Editing by Patricia K.. Cole.