A video found by TPM on Wednesday shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) speaking in September at a gala where he met with a key executive of the company tied to the latest allegations hitting his administration.
In the video, Christie appears to speak fondly of the executive, Leslie Smith, and refers to him by the name “Les.”
The footage, which was originally posted by Newark Star-Ledger newspaper in September, has resurfaced just days after the mayor of Hoboken, N.J. unleashed explosive allegations that involve Christie’s administration and Smith’s Rockefeller Group development firm.
The mayor said over the weekend that Christie’s administration threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds from her city unless she approved a real estate project on land owned by the company.
Smith, who has donated $2,000 to Christie since 2009, is an executive vice president at the Rockefeller Group and leader of the company’s development efforts in New Jersey.
On Tuesday, the Star-Ledger surfaced a photo of Christie and his wife standing with Smith at a Sept. 26 gala where the Christies were honored by Daytop New Jersey, a substance abuse treatment and education program. Smith is on Daytop’s executive committee.
In the video of Christie’s speech at the event, he encouraged guests to continue to support Daytop. He also acknowledged someone he described as a member “of the board” named “Les,” who he described as having supported the program for “a long time.”
“You need to know that tonight can’t be the last time you help,” Christie said. “For those of you who’ve been here for a long time … Les is here, I don’t need to tell Les that, members of the board who are here that have been there a long time. But there’s a lot of you out here tonight who might just be here for tonight. Don’t be.”
Christie’s office and the Rockefeller group have not responded to requests for comment about the governor’s relationship with Smith.
Watch video of Christie’s speech below. He refers to “Les” about 17 minutes in.