Being a Republican donor in New Jersey apparently comes with billions of benefits, a report released today shows. Companies that donated to the Republican Governors Association, chaired by Chris Christie, and other GOP campaigns have received almost $1.25 billion in public funding deals in less two years from the Christie administration.
A review by The Guardian of the “30 biggest corporate subsidies awarded by the state of New Jersey since Christie appointed one of his closest allies as head of the state’s ‘bank for business’ found that 21 went to ventures involving firms that made significant donations to Republicans, or had senior executives who did.”
“About half made contributions, totaling $1.8 million, to the (RGA), the organisation that works to elect GOP candidates to statehouses around the US, since Christie became one of its senior officials,” reports The Guardian.
Among other contributions, millions went to Republican committees and candidates, including Christie, Mitt Romney, and New Jersey state senator and Christie’s former campaign manager, Joseph Kyrillos.
One of the biggest subsidies, $224.8 million, went to JP Morgan Chase out of Jersey City, which said that it was considering moving its operations to Delaware or Ohio. Since 2011, JP Morgan and Senior Vice President Barbara Stewart have contributed $75,000 to the RGA. JP Morgan also contributed $75,000 to the Republican National Committee, Senate and House Committees for the 2012 elections. An additional $15,000 came from Managing Director Greg Onken to the New Jersey Republican committee in 2011. Onken also donated $45,000 to Romney’s 2012 campaign fund.
Other subsidies included $223.3 million to Sayreville Seaport Associates, LP, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Prudential, which has contributed over $125,000 to the RGA since 2011, $75,000 to to the Republican State Leadership Committee in the past two years, around $150,000 to the Drumthwacket Foundation, which maintains the New Jersey’s Governor’s mansion. Sayreville Seaport Associates CEO John Strangfeld also donated $25,000 to the RNC and Romney in 2012.
Also on the list were the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, who received $82 million for a training facility in Camden. The main owner of the team, Joshua Harris, who had been predominantly a Democratic contributor in the past, gave $50,000 to the RGA since 2010 and $82,000 to Romney and the RNC in 2012. Scott O’Neil, the 76ers CEO, also gave $10,000 to Romney in 2012.
The corruption that is apparently running rampant through New Jersey has caused many state officials to call for Christie to lose his power to appoint the state’s Economic Development Authority (EDA). “It seems pretty obvious to me that we don’t have enough safeguards in place to make sure these awards are not going out based upon favoritism,” said the co-chair of the state legislature’s select committee on investigation, Senator Loretta Weinberg.
This latest scandal is just the latest blemish on the Christie administration. The state’s EDA is currently under a federal audit over it’s use of $23 million in disaster recovery funds awarded after Hurricane Sandy that were instead spent on an ad campaign featuring Christie.
Last year’s “Bridge-gate” scandal, the politically-motivated closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, has also prompted an SEC investigation into the state’s use of up to $1.8 million in tax-exempt bond financing for the Port Authority to fix roadways and a bridge feeding into the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel.
The inquiry is focusing on Christie’s administration’s pressing “the Port Authority to pay for extensive repairs to the Skyway and related road projects, diverting money that was to be used on a new Hudson River rail tunnel,” according to the New York Times.