New Jersey gives tax breaks to longtime Christie donor

One of the most recent beneficiaries of the Christie administration’s  Oprah-esque distribution of corporate tax breaks happens to be one of the New Jersey governor’s top donors, the International Business Times reports .

Since 2009, real estate mogul Murray Kushner has given $130,000 to Christie’s campaigns and state Republicans, according to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission records .

Meanwhile, Kushner’s KRE group recently received a $40 million tax break from the Economic Development Authority, on top of a $33 million tax break in 2013 and a $42 million tax break in 2011. That’s also on top of a $50 million dollar investment in a KRE real estate project from the New Jersey pension fund.

One way to look at it: Kushner’s $130,000 in political donations has yielded a return of $165 million from the state.

After handing out less than $2 billion in the decade preceding the Christie administration, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has awarded over $6 billion during Christie’s five years in office, and some state legislators are calling for increased transparency for the authority.

“[I]t is essential that greater levels of transparency and accountability are in place to ensure the longevity of our economic incentives programs,” Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton, who sponsored the proposed transparency bill, told Watchdog .

Kushner and his  KRE Group , a real estate firm with a portfolio of over 7,200 apartment units and 4.3 million square feet of office and industrial property, have a long history with Christie.

Beginning in the 90s, Murray and his brother Charlie engaged in a long feud over control of the firm, a battle which eventually involved threats, blackmail, prostitution and even attracted the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The details of the case are so lurid they were adapted into an episode of Law & Order .

The U.S. Attorney at the time was none other than Chris Christie, politically ambitious and eager to portray himself as tough on corruption.

Murray took over the company after Charlie, who had been the top donor for Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey and McGreevey’s pick to head the state Port Authority, pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to three years in prison for falsifying tax returns.

Although Murray was never targeted by an investigation, he was implicated in a scheme to illegally reimburse employees for donating to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

[Original article]