Christie’s public policy nonprofit brought in $500K in 2019

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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s public policy charity hauled in more than a half-million dollars in 2019, according to records released by the Internal Revenue Service.

Just over $513,000 landed in the Christie Institute for Public Policy’s coffers in 2019, its first year of operation, according to data released by IRS last month. The 501(c)(3), which is partnered with Seton Hall University, Christie’s alma mater, also reported nearly $280,000 of assets.

Full tax returns for the nonprofit aren’t yet available. Neither is information about the individuals and institutions that have backed the new charity financially. Contributions to the institute, whose stated mission is to “foster the understanding of major public policy issues facing the nation at all levels of government,” are up to 60 percent tax deductible.

Also unavailable are payrolls for the new entity, which is led by Michele Brown, the former Republican governor’s longtime confidant. Brown previously led Choose New Jersey, an industry-funded nonprofit created to attract businesses to the Garden State, and was previously selected by Christie for a lucrative part-time position on the board of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Why it matters: The Christie Institute for Public Policy has helped keep the former governor in the public eye, providing a venue for Christie — who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016 — to host a series of lectures and conversations with political luminaries like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former diplomat Henry Kissinger.

The aim of the institute, in addition to funding academic research and encouraging participation in government, is to encourage a certain chumminess that’s lacking in the current political climate, the famously combustible Christie told NJ Advance Media in 2019.

“Unfortunately our politics have gotten so ugly and divisive in the country that people are not having civilized conversations,” he said.

Key context: Christie’s scandal-wracked final years in office made him the least popular governor in New Jersey history. He remained in the political arena after leaving office, however, taking on new roles as an adviser to former President Donald Trump and an ABC News commentator.

He also embarked on a series of lucrative private ventures that include lobbying contracts with the state’s three largest hospital systems, a high-level consulting gig and board seat with a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company and launching a real estate investment fund backed by some of his old political allies. He also provided legal advice to Jho Low, the financier at the center of an embezzlement scheme that stole billions from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

More recently, Christie joined the board of directors of the New York Mets.

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