Less than two years before Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s tickets and travel to NFL games, government documents show Christie personally pushed the Port Authority to approve a lucrative contract for a firm part-owned by Jones. Christie nonetheless accepted the gifts from Jones, despite New Jersey ethics rules barring gifts to public officials from persons or entities that those officials “deal with, contact, or regulate in the course of official business.”
On March 19, 2013, Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a press release announcing their selection of Legends Hospitality LLC to operate the observation deck on the top floor of One World Trade Center. The next day, the Port Authority board -- which is appointed by Christie and Cuomo -- specifically cited the governors’ announcement in voting to approve the contract for the company, which is jointly owned by the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and Checketts Partners Investment Fund.
The Port Authority press release announcing the vote quotes Dallas Cowboys executive Jerry Jones Jr. as saying: "We are humbled to have been chosen to operate the Observatory Deck."
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that Jones has business with the Port Authority. That story followed an International Business Times report about how Christie’s acceptance of gifts from Jones may conflict with New Jersey ethics rules because the gifts followed Christie’s administration delivering big tax subsidies to the NFL.
After IBTimes’ report, Christie officials acknowledged that Jones paid for Christie’s travel and tickets to recent Cowboys games. They assert that the gifts are legal under a separate executive order that aims to exempt gifts from “personal friends” of the governor. Christie on Monday said he is considering attending the next Cowboys game in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
According to the Journal, Randy Levine, a board member of Legends Hospitality, said Jones was not involved in the negotiations with Port Authority for the observation deck contract. However, Levine said Jones’ family is a “significant” investor in the firm.