The “pre-season” presidential campaign has moved into full swing as a group with ties to Hillary Clinton filed an ethics complaint against New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Both Clinton and Christie are considered likely candidates, but neither has yet made a declaration to run.
Christie admitted to accepting tickets and transportation from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones—which included round trip travel by private jet. Christie and his family members received tickets to three games from Jones, two of which were in Dallas where they watched the Cowboys play from Jones’ luxury box. Christie also attended a game in Maryland as a guest of Jones. Christie announced he would be paying his own way to the playoff game in Green Bay.
The lavish gifts from the Cowboys team owner raised eyebrows across the political spectrum—considering that Christie supported a contract between the Port Authority of of New York and New Jersey and a company owned in part by the Dallas Cowboys known as Legends Hospitality, LLC.
The left leaning American Democracy Legal Fund filed a complaint questioning the propriety of Christie’s gifts from Jones. American Bridge, a DC based super PAC with deep ties to the Clinton political machine submitted an open records request to the governor’s office for documents produced between January 1st to January 5th, including travel logs, law enforcement usage on detail unrelated to state business, helicopter, and private security expenses. (Clinton operatives David Brock and Brad Woodstine hold leadership roles in both organizations.)
The state of New Jersey places restrictions on gifts to public officials, but does allow gifts of this magnitude from family and friends. Christie claims Jones is a friend. Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts clarified that the friendship began in 2013, but could not confirm if they met or or spoke in previous years.
Christie’s “friend” (Jones) financially profited from a March 2013 Port Authority contract. The New Jersey governor endorsed Legends Hospitality LLC—owned in part by the Dallas Cowboys—to run the observatory deck of One World Trade Center. Legends received a lucrative contract with the Port Authority to develop and operate a three-story observation deck at the top of One World Trade Center. A press release by the Port Authority stated that Christie’s endorsement held sway in their decision to approve the deal:
“The Board’s vote followed yesterday’s call from Governors Cuomo and Christie to endorse the award of a contract to Legends to bring a world-class observation deck to what will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere when it reaches its final height of 1776 feet.”