Governor Christie with Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer at the NBA Finals game in Cleveland last Thursday.
Governor's Christie's ticket for Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland last Thursday was paid for by his national fundraising PAC, but the actual cost of the prized seat behind the Cavaliers bench won't be known for months.
Christie attended the game as part of a series of fundraising meetings in the state that day in his role as honorary chairman of Leadership Matters for America PAC, the group paying for his trips to key presidential voting states, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
It was that committee that paid Christie's way into the game since he was meeting potential donors at the event, the spokeswoman said.
How much money Christie will have to launch and sustain his presumed presidential campaign is an open question for him as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and billionaire Donald Trump officially entered the race this week, bringing the total of declared GOP candidates to 12.
And Christie's appearance last week in prime seats at the nationally televised playoff game served as a potential reminder of his other visits to high-profile sporting events that drew unwanted attention. This year, the governor's office had to disclose, amid media questions, that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had paid for Christie and members of his family to attend playoff games.
On Tuesday, Christie's political team declined to answer questions about who was with him at these fundraising meetings. Samantha Smith, the spokeswoman for Leadership Matters, would say only that Christie was meeting with potential donors at the NBA game last week.
Courting Cavs' owner
The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, is a GOP donor who has in the past supported U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and former House Minority Leader Eric Cantor. Last year, Gilbert gave $32,400 to the Republican National Committee and $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Christie's attendance at the game, first reported by the
National Journal last week, came as the governor is courting donors like Gilbert ahead of an anticipated presidential run.
But how much that ticket - a seat behind the Cavaliers' bench - cost and whether the Leadership Matters for America PAC paid for anyone else to attend the game won't be made public until the July 31 Federal Election Commission filing deadline. Cavaliers representatives declined to comment Tuesday about the cost and availability of the ticket.
With a race to secure donors amid a crowded Republican field, that filing deadline will also reveal whether the PAC that has been supporting Bush will reach its reported goal of $100 million, and how much other declared candidates like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas have raised as candidates and through political committees backing them.
Christie has said he intends to announce his decision on whether he'll run this month, but in the meantime he's been raising money for Leadership Matters, a committee that has allowed him to hire staff and hold events in crucial early voting states - including town-hall meetings, like the one he's holding in New Hampshire on Thursday.
At the game last week, Christie was seated alongside Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, who led the Buckeyes to the national championship in January.
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, said while Christie's appearances alongside Jones brought unwanted attention, Christie's attendance at last week's game in a presidential swing state may have been "worth far more than the price of a ticket."
"In this kind of early free-for-all environment, getting publicity is one of the most important things," Dworkin said of Christie being seen alongside the beloved Ohio State coach.
On Monday the governor held a fundraiser in New Jersey for Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and on Tuesday he went to New Haven for a Connecticut Leadership PAC fundraiser.
Staff Writers Charles Stile and Steve Popper contributed to this article. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org