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LeFrak affiliation could force Farrell Port Authority recusals

Private real estate giant might be uncomfortable sharing information with authority lawyers

By David Wildstein, July 27 2019 4:55 pm

One potential obstacle for Jeremy Farrell to become a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is his employer, The LeFrak Organization.

LeFrak, whose properties include the Newport Centre Mall at the foot of the Holland Tunnel, frequently have matters connected to the Port Authority.

Farrell joined LeFrak, a privately-held company that is one of the largest real estate developers in the region, in 2018 after serving as Jersey City Corporation Counsel under Mayor Steven Fulop.

Richard LeFrak, the billionaire chairman of the LeFrak Organization, is one of President Donald Trump’s closest friends.

If Farrell makes his way on to the Port Authority board, LeFrak will likely be called upon to frequently provide comprehensive and detailed information about their business interests with the Port Authority General Counsel and Inspector General to determine any need for recusals.

While the sharing of information about the LeFrak Organization with Port Authority officials to resolve potential conflict matters in confidential, that might not satisfy the LeFrak family, which carefully guards particulars regarding their holdings.

A new Code of Ethics for Port Authority Commissioners passed in 2017 would allow Farrell to make his own determination as to whether a conflict exists, but strongly suggests that Port Authority lawyers be consulted.

Farrell is reportedly the choice of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) for a seat on the Port Authority board that appears to have been promised to Hudson County.

Cunningham’s first choice was former Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Jersey City), a retired Jersey City police detective who was her 31st district running mate until Hudson County Demcorats dumped him from their ticket four years ago.   Mainor had once been a driver for the Senator’s late husband, Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham.

There was some concern that Mainor lacked the skill set to serve as a Port Authority commissioner and Cunningham began looking for an alternate candidate.

For a little while, it looked like Hudson County Freeholder Jerry Walker was headed to the Port Authority.   Also a Cunningham ally, he had been a member of the 1993 Seton Hall basketball team that won the Big East Tournament.

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