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Hundreds Paid for a Christie Inauguration Party That Never Happened

Roster of donors include Trenton movers-and-shakers, including many NJ officials, as well as beneficiaries of state contracts and Christie policies

Credit: Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

Gov. Chris Christie's inaugural bash at Ellis Island may have been cancelled due to snow, but it still generated a ton of money from the politically connected.

Those who paid $500 for tickets to the inaugural party in January had their contributions used for charity, as per state law. Part of the money, $75,000, went to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Christie attended services the morning he was sworn in for a second term. The church's pastor, Joe Carter, delivered a key African-American and Democratic endorsement for the Republican governor's reelection.

Here are some names on the list of those who donated to the inaugural, according to a new filing from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission:

Top Christie aides: Regina Egea, Christie's chief of staff; former director of operations Rosemary Iannacone; Christopher Porrino, chief counsel; Matthew McDermott, appointments director; and Jeanne Ashmore, director of constituent relations.

Cabinet members: Andrew Sidamon Eristoff, state treasurer; Michele Brown, CEO of the Economic Development Authority; Marc Ferzan, the Sandy recovery czar; Charles McKenna, CEO of Schools Development Authority; Robert Martin, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection; Edward Dickson, director of Homeland Security; Raymond Martinez, chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission; James Weinstein, former executive director of NJ Transit; Gary Lanigan, commissioner of the Department of Corrections; and Dianne Solomon, director of the Board of Public Utilities.

Members of the special legislative committee investigating Bridgegate: Sen. Kevin O'Toole and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

Debra Yang, a Christie friend who is part of the legal team representing his office in the Bridgegate and Sandy funding scandals. Yang is being paid $650 an hour by the taxpayers.

Sandy contractors: Ferreira Construction and Conti Group.

Automotive dealerships, which are at the center of criticism from Tesla, the electric-car manufacturer, which says Christie made a deal with them to cut Tesla out of direct sales in the state.

Former Christie appointees: Richard Bagger, former Christie chief of staff and current Port Authority board member; Jeff Chiesa, former U.S. senator and state attorney general who is now an attorney at Wolff & Samson; and Bruce Harris, a failed nominee to the Supreme Court.

Top Christie appointees: Ralph Izzo, chairman of the PSE&G utility and member of the board of governors at Rutgers University; Martin Perez, member of board of governors at Rutgers University; Port Authority Commissioner William "Pat" Schuber; and Brandon Minde, who until recently was the executive director of the Government Records Council, which adjudicates public records complaints against the Christie administration.

Heavyweight Trenton lobbyists, including Dale Florio, Roger Bodman and several partners at Public Strategies Impact, the second-highest-grossing lobbying firm in the state in 2013.

Top Department of Environmental Protection officials, including assistant commissioners Michele Siekerka and Robert Marshall, and Cindy Randazzo, a director.

24 employees from Gibbons PC, the fifth-biggest lobbyist in the state and the law firm of Christie's best friend and political adviser, Bill Palatucci. 

Several unions, including the Laborers' International Union of North America, the State Troopers Fraternal Association and the Building and General Construction Laborers.

Vahan Gureghian, a Pennsylvania millionaire and CEO of a firm approved by New Jersey to manage a new charter school in Camden.

Matt Katz is a reporter for New Jersey Public Radio/WNYC covering state politics. NJ Spotlight, in partnership with NJPR, is hosting his blog and running in-depth stories.

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