A New York Times report is breaking new ground into Donald Trump’s and New Jersey Governor Chris Christies “close relationship.”
Before Christie became governor, Donald Trump and his casinos were on the hook for $30 million in past taxes. Trump and his lawyers were engaged in a very contentious battle with state auditors and its lawyers. But – according to the Times – the very next year after Christie took office, the state suddenly changed its tune and welcome settlement offers. And – by settlement, we mean big. New Jersey ended up accepting just $5 million, $25 million less than what Trump owed taxpayers. That’s roughly 17 cents on the dollar of what the casinos owed.
And – furthermore – there’s reason to believe that the settlement was largely due to their friendship. Compare this deal to what Governor Christie offered to the average citizen in his state under a program he introduced in 2014. Under that program, delinquent taxpayers would only be able to get reduced penalties if and only if they were caught up on all overdue taxes and interest. That’s not even close to the same deal Trump got.
Trump’s and Christie’s relationship spans back as far as 2002 when he was the United States attorney for New Jersey. Mr. Christie was invited to Trump’s third wedding in 2005, and in 2010 Trump was even a featured guest at Christie’s inauguration. They’ve even been on double dates together with their wives. The intimacy is there.
Even though they spared with each other during the primaries, they’ve always maintained their friendship. And, after Christie had to bow out due to little popular support, Christie became involved in Trump’s campaign. Christie was a leading contender to be Trump’s VP but ended up losing out to Governor Mike Pence.
“Donald and I, along with Melania and Mary Pat, have been friends for over a decade,” Mr. Christie said when he endorsed Mr. Trump in February. “He has been a good and loyal friend.”
Even if the settlement offer happened without quid pro quo, which would be illegal, there are many reasons why it appears fishy.
In February 2007, Heather Lynn Anderson, a deputy attorney general who specializes in these types of cases, said that Trump’s casinos were filing documents that couldn’t have been accurate. For one, they reported lower revenue figures on its tax returns than it did on filings for the State Casino Control Commission. They just didn’t add up.
Mr. Trump’s casino, the Taj Mahal, had reported, for instance, that it paid a $2.2 million alternative minimum tax assessment in 2003, but somehow the company actually only paid $500 in income taxes.
Also – Christie claims he had no knowledge of the dealings, yet his name appears in the bankruptcy cases Trump had filed in those years when he was the United States attorney for New Jersey. More than a dozen briefs were filed under his name against the Trump casinos. When Christie became governor, he was also very close to Paula T. Dow, the next attorney general – an advisor of his for more than a decade. And – just a week after the settlement was signed, she was appointed by Christie into a position she was seeking at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until she could get the judgeship she wanted.
It certainly looks like their friendship resulted in Trump paying considerably less in taxes than he was on the hook for- $25 million that New Jersey will never get back.
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