By David Cruz
The Dallas Cowboys are 5-0 when Chris Christie shows up to their games. He’s a fan, people, so get over it, he says. But, while most Giants and Eagles fans allow Christie his gridiron heresy, how he got to these games, where he sat and who paid for it all has become an issue with implications beyond the football playoffs.
“I seem to repeat this saying on the average once a week. Every time I think I can’t be surprised, I am,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.
At issue is whether these trips on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ private jet and the tickets in Jones’ private box, all valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, constitute a gift, and perhaps a quid pro quo, for Christie having pushed the Port Authority to award a contract for hospitality services at the World Trade Center observation deck to Legends Hospitality — a company in which Jones has a major interest.
“The governor controls 50 percent of the Port Authority. He advocated to the commissioner at the Port Authority to award the contract to Legends. It just doesn’t look right,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski.
“I don’t see any quid pro quo. I see Democrats who would like to tie it together, but I understand. This is the big leagues. He may be running for president and anything you can throw at him, you’re gonna do it,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.
But it’s more than politics, say the co-chairs of the special committee that’s been looking into Christie’s role in the GWB lane closure. Christie’s office say the gifts from Jones are OK because the men are personal friends. The state’s code of conduct — approved by former Gov. McGreevey in 2003 — says, “The governor may accept gifts … from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.” Wisniewski says that depends of your definition of friend.
“I think it’s a convenient, perhaps inappropriate expansion of the definition to say the guy you met because you’re the governor of New Jersey is now your friend and as a consequence he can bestow thousands of dollars of gifts upon you,” Wisniewski said.
“They spent a year looking at Bridgegate and they wrote a report saying we had no evidence that the governor was involved. So after millions of dollars spent on that, they have a new mission,” Bramnick said.
No one’s calling for hearings just yet but Senate staffers are going over state ethics rules now.
“It says to me this is a guy who is tone deaf,” said Weinberg.
As of now, the governor plans to be in Green Bay for Sunday’s game, presumably in Jerry Jones’ box. Jones says Christie is part of the team’s mojo now and he’s not going to let some penalty flag in New Jersey stop them from getting to the Super Bowl — together.