Tags: Christie Bridge Controversy | Andrew Cuomo | Port Authority | Legends Hospitality

NJ Panel Looking Into Cowboys-Related Port Authority Contract

By    |   Friday, 09 Jan 2015 01:45 PM

The co-chairmen of the New Jersey legislative panel that is investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings have said that they may probe how and why the Port Authority issued a contract to a firm co-owned by Gov. Chris Christie's favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.

According to NJ.com, the company, Legends Hospitality, won a bid in 2013 to operate the observatory at One World Trade Center after Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both publicly urged the Port Authority's board of commissioners to approve the deal.

After Christie enjoyed an all-expense-paid trip by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to see the team win its playoff game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Democrat State Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Democrat Sen. Loretta Weinberg say there are questions about the nature of the deal with the Port Authority.

"The question you have to ask yourself is 'why did the governors need to publicly urge the commissioners to vote for this?' " Wisniewski said, according to NJ.com. "If this was a fair and open process, why did they feel compelled to advocate for the commissioners to vote to approve the agreement with Legends?"

Weinberg added that the intervention by the governors was "a little strange."

A spokesman for Christie dated the governor's friendship with Jones to the summer of 2013 — several months after the approval of the Legends bid.  But last month, Christie said publicly that the two had become friends "over the last five years," the outlet reported.

"The more I hear about questions like, 'when did you become friends?' and then you have the governor saying one thing and his staff another, it becomes eerily familiar to the questions of 'when did you first hear about the lane closures?' " Wisniewski told NJ.com, referencing Christie's controversial role in the Bridge-gate scandal.

A liberal political action committee has asked the state ethics commission to investigate Christie's acceptance of tens of thousands of dollars worth of private jet airfare and luxury sky box seats from Jones.

But Wisniewski said his concerns are broader than personal ethics issues.

"My inquiry is somewhat broader, although [the Jones/Christie relationship] is certainly a subset of the questions that have come to my mind," he told NJ.com. "I'm more concerned with how the Port Authority is run: What was this process that we’ve heard described? I don't think any of us know the details of the vetting or solicitation, and the ability to misuse and misrepresent a so-called 'open process' are huge.

"The thing that has to be remembered is artificially narrowly conditions can be drawn in such a way that they appear profound and broad, but it really serves to narrow the field of individuals competing. How well was it was publicized? The goal should not be to narrow the field [of potential bidders], but to broaden it."

NJ.com this week raised questions about a range of expenses associated with Christie's out-of-state travel.  

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The co-chairmen of the New Jersey legislative panel that is investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings have said that they may probe how and why the Port Authority issued a contract to a firm co-owned by the governor's favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Andrew Cuomo, Port Authority, Legends Hospitality
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2015-45-09
Friday, 09 Jan 2015 01:45 PM
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