New Jersey: Watchdogs Urge New Jersey Ethics Commission to Investigate Gov. Christie’s Free Flights & Tickets to Cowboys Games
Last night, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, urged the State Ethics Commission of New Jersey to investigate possible violations of the state’s ethics and conflict of interest laws by Governor Chris Christie. The Governor accepted chartered flights and free tickets to games from Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who is a significant stakeholder in a company awarded lucrative contracts with the Port Authority. According to press reports, Governor Christie personally pushed for the Port Authority to award the contract to Legends Hospitality LLC to operate the observation deck on the top floor of One World Trade Center. Further, the Governor has extensive dealings with the National Football League, including the granting of more than seventeen million dollars in state funds in the form of sales tax breaks and security costs surrounding the State’s hosting of the 2014 Super Bowl.
“There's no doubt that once he became governor, a lot of people looking to do business with New Jersey wanted to be Chris Christie's friend,” said Larry Noble, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel. “But that's not the type of friendship that justifies lavishing gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars on the governor. The ‘personal friendship’ exemption is understood to mean longstanding friendships, not ones cultivated after one is elected to high public office and with those who have a business relationship with the government. We urge the State Ethics Commission to quickly launch an investigation to determine whether these actions were appropriate and legal, and we urge the commission to make public its findings and reasoning.”
New Jersey ethics laws prohibit public officials and their families from accepting any gifts offered in an attempt to influence them in the performance of the public duties and responsibilities.
The letter urges the commission to address the claimed “personal friendship” exemption and determine whether Gov. Christie and Mr. Jones’ friendship stemming from the performance of the former’s official duties is sufficient grounds for accepting the gifts under the exemption.
To read the letter to the State Ethics Commission of New Jersey, click here.