When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones an awkward hug after the Cowboys National Football League playoff win over the Detroit Lions Sunday, the prospective Republican presidential candidate invited — and received — a storm of abuse.
The ridicule came not only from his own constituents who wondered why Christie rooted for the arch-rival of New Jersey’s own Giants, but from fans and politics watchers across the nation unaccustomed to seeing a major political figure act like an overenthusiastic teenager on national television.
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But according to reports surfacing Tuesday, there may have been more to the hug attempt by the 52-year-old Christie on the multibillionaire Cowboys owner. As it turns out, according to the the reports, a business owned in part by the 72-year-old Jones does business directly with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, a publicly-run entity partly controlled by the governor of New Jersey — who in this instance happens to be Chris Christie.
The revelation came after the televised hug raised questions about how Christie made his way to Arlington, Texas, and into the owner’s private box at AT&T Stadium where the Cowboys play their home games. Did New Jersey’s taxpayers pick up the tab for their governor’s weekend excursion to watch his favorite team?
While the answer proved negative, what really happened raised new questions, that now threaten to open up a new political scandal for Christie, who last year survived the “Bridgegate” affair, in which he was accused of manipulating the Port Authority to punish his political opponents.
Though Christie denied knowing anything about it, blaming the debacle on his aides, the “Bridgegate” allegations held that Christie ordered the Port Authority to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge, creating massive traffic nightmares in New Jersey cities controlled by local politicians who failed to back Christies’ run for re-election as governor.
According to Tuesday’s revelations, Chris Christie’s football weekend, embarrassing hug and all, was a gift from Jerry Jones, who paid in full for the New Jersey governor’s transportation and accommodations.
But Jones through the Cowboys is a principal owner of Legends Hospitality, the business that runs the season-to-opened observation deck in One World Trade Center, also known as the “Freedom Tower,” the 1,776-foot skyscraper that opened late last year on the site of the twin towers destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Under New Jersey state law, accepting such gifts — while ethically open to question — is not illegal. Christie aides and Legends Entertainment executives said that the football gift to Christie that came almost two years after Legends won a bidding war to control the observatory is just a coincidence.
It was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who jointly controls the Port Authority with Christ Christie, who was mainly involved in the bidding — and has yet to be seen on television giving Jerry Jones am awkward hug.