The Manzo Blog


By Louis Manzo / January 8, 2015

     Living up to his reputation for shameless arrogance—a staple of his public service career that is well documented in the book “Ruthless Ambition” —Governor Chris Christie has made a mess of things again, this time by accepting gifts from Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones.

     Christie caught the nation’s attention by appearing in the owner’s booth with Jones during several of the team’s late season games on their drive to the NFL’s Eastern Division Championship, and then, most recently, during the Cowboys’ playoff victory over the Detroit Lions. During the spontaneous celebration of the victory, Christie was awkwardly left hanging for a high five and resorted to a very uncomfortable and un-presidential hugging of Jerry Jones—picture a dog in heat clinging to your leg. The travel accommodations and game perks—including the cost of flying Christie on Jones’ private jet—were taken care of by the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, which might also help to explain Christie’s excessive celebration.

     There are other costs for Christie’s Texas jaunt that remain unaccounted for, which have apparently been paid for by the taxpayers of New Jersey—the pay and accommodations for the security detail assigned to Christie when he travels. There is no indication of who paid for the travel expenses of the cats that appeared to be fighting underneath Christie’s sweater when he was shown on national television for his 15 seconds of football fan fame.

     Christie claims to be a longtime Cowboys’ fan, but it has not been substantiated just how many Cowboys’ games he has attended prior to his election as New Jersey Governor, and while, as Governor, he directed the Board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to award a lucrative multi-million dollar contract to Legends Hospitality for their operation of the observatory at One World Trade Center. The Dallas Cowboys’ and Jerry Jones own a partnership share of Legends Hospitality. The Governors of New Jersey and New York control the operations at the ethically challenged Port Authority. Most recently, both Governors gave the thumbs down to ethics reforms prescribed for the Port Authority by the NY and NJ State legislatures.

     As for Jerry Jones, he claims that his affection for Christie isn’t about money or the contract, but rather Christie’s “mojo” in helping to charm the Cowboys to victory. If that’s the case, expect to see the NFL officiating crew from the Cowboys/Lions game sitting in Jones’ booth as well. It was the ‘mojo’ of these officials—blowing obvious penalty calls—that actually turned the Wild Card Playoff Round game in the favor of the Cowboys.

     Of course, there are an abundance of federal and state laws and ethics codes that prohibit such conduct for public officials—former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was recently convicted on corruption charges for using his office to benefit supporters who bestowed gifts upon him. Even the officiating crew from Sunday’s Cowboys/Lion game would be hard pressed not to leave put a penalty flag for Christie’s conduct in this escapade. But there is a big difference between McDonnell and Christie—Christie is a former ‘federal’ prosecutor, McDonnell is not. As documented in Ruthless Ambition, federal prosecutors are held out to be above the law and immune to prosecution from the Department of Justice. That’s the real truth behind Christie’s ‘mojo’.

     New Jersey’s executive branch ethics rules warns state officials that there’s “a zero tolerance policy for acceptance of gifts offered to you … that are related in any way to your official duties.” The ethics rules specifically prohibits public officials from accepting access to entertainment events from any person or entity that public officials “deal with, contact, or regulate in the course of official business.” The rules define one form of restricted gift as “admission to an event for which a member of the general public would be charged.” In 2010, Christie cited the New Jersey ethics code in revoking other public officials’ special access to tickets at the arenas owned by New Jersey. However, he retained the perk for himself.

     Christie has nothing to fret, any notion of wrongdoing by Christie will be whisked away by the current United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Paul Fishman. Fishman’s office is currently busy whitewashing, excuse me, investigating another of Christie’s fiascos—Bridgegate. The federal prosecutor’s Bridgegate investigation has now lasted longer than the Warren Commission’s investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination. The federal prosecutors have effectively quashed a more serious investigation into the Governors Office’s politically motivated lane closings on the George Washington Bridge by a bipartisan New Jersey State Legislative Committee. Fishman’s office meddled with the witnesses that were scheduled to be interviewed by the committee, effectively boxing the committee out.

     Expect Fishman to hang any crimes or misdemeanors related to Bridgegate around the necks of multiple Christie underlings and allow Christie to skate. Of course, a legitimate investigation would have given the low hanging fruit immunity, in order to answer the Million Dollar question: What was Christie’s involvement? That is what the public needs to know! Unfortunately, Fishman’s lengthy and costly investigation of a former comrade and predecessor looks as if it will leave the answer to that question blowing in the wind. Fishman has allowed plenty more documented potential crimes by Christie and other federal prosecutors to blow by him as well. Federal prosecutors do not eat their own!

So don’t be expecting any consequences for Christie’s behavior, for which the average Joe, lacking ‘mojo’, would be prosecuted.

Disclaimer: I am a lifelong Green Bay Packer’s fan and stockholder in the team as an honorary owner. I have attended Packer playoff games at Lambeau Field, all on my own dime, the same way that other true fans of their sports teams do. I just hope that if Christie decides to visit Lambeau Field and root for his Cowboys, he will not have the audacity to attempt a “Lambeau Leap.” We don’t need his ‘mojo’ splattered all over the playing field. Besides, the stadium has recently been renovated and upgraded, and we don’t need to be expending more monies for the cost of fence repairs.

Note to the Guv: If the Pack plays to true form, don’t worry about not having anyone to hug after the game.


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