Tuesday, January 06, 2015
The Privileges Of Being A Governor
New Jersey's Gov. Chris "Krispie Kreme" Christie is a big Dallas Cowboys fan. The team's owner, billionaire oilman Jerry Jones, rewards Christie and his family for being such good fans by flying them on one of his personal Gulf Stream jets so they can sit in the owner's suite and watch games, including this past weekend's playoff game against the Detroit Lions. After images of Christie bear hugging Jones following the Cowboys' win, ethical questions are being asked about the benefits conferred on Christie by Jones, in addition to loyalty to his home state's Jets.
The most important point you need to know is that New Jersey taxpayers gave $17 million in subsidies to the NFL last year to host the Super Bowl.at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. While the Cowboys didn't play in that Super Bowl, all NFL team owners realize financial benefits from the Super Bowl, including Jones, who sits on the ownership committee. The value of the tickets and the private flight for Christie and his family was a gift worth tens of thousands of dollars. This past weekend's playoff game wasn't the first time Christie has been a guest in Jones' owner box during a football game.
New Jersey law allows officials to accept gifts from relatives and friends, a pretty big loophole that can be abused when defining who a "friend" is can be interpreted pretty broadly. Most politicians claim hundreds, if not thousands of people, their friends. Christie signed an updated version of a previous executive order that provides that "all public officials must avoid conduct that violates the public trust or creates an appearance of impropriety." It's no wonder hundreds of millions of our tax dollars get spent annually to subsidize the NFL and other sports teams when the politicians doling out those public subsidies receive such valuable gifts and campaign contributions in return from the team owners.
UPDATE: It gets smellier. It now emerges that Christie lobbied the New York Port Authority in 2013 as the state's governor to award the contract to manage the new World Trade Center's observation deck to a company in which Jones owned an interest. The contract was awarded to Legends Hospitality LLC, which is owned in part by Jones' Cowboys organization. According to the International Business Times, Christie "personally pushed" for the contract to be awarded to Jones' company.