Dear Gov. Christie, hug away, but pay your own way

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 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center right, embraces a person on the sidelines before an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center right, embraces a person on the sidelines before an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

So, why should you care that Chris Christie snarfs free luxury box tickets to Dallas Cowboy’s games from team owner Jerry Jones?

It’s not that rooting for … excuse me “America’s Team” is a character defect, per se.

What does amount to a serious flaw is being a ‘Boys fan without the excuse of having grown up in Texas. But some people I consider good friends exhibit this quirk, so I try to practice tolerance.

No, here’s the problem: Christie does not seem to experience even a nanosecond of qualms about accepting freebies from an influential millionaire whose business interests come into play with Christie’s current job, New Jersey governor, and the one Christie is eying, the presidency.

Even under the light-as-a-feather ethics rules that New Jersey governors have written for themselves, Christie should have at least reported past Cowboys games he attended as Jones’ guest. He has not.

It seems Christie mentally files his buddy Jerry under the personal friend loophole. Yep, under these weightless ethics guidelines, New Jersey governors don’t have to report gifts from “personal friends.”

How can Christie help it if his ever-expanding list of close personal friends is overstocked with rich people who can fuel his political dreams or score him rare tickets to games or concerts — with a free plane ride tacked on for giggles.

Maybe you’re thinking: It’s just a little football game. Relax. No one’s going to sell his political soul for a playoff ticket.  (Even one valued on StubHub at $2,500?)

But just like the devil, corruption is in the details.

Consider this: The next time Jerry Jones calls Trenton, think Chris Christie will get right on the phone? Think he’d do the same for some Sierra Club official or universal pre-K advocate?

And what about the lack of transparency? Why no reporting? Does Christie feel he’s the sole judge of his own behavior?

The Cowboys tickets might not be a big deal in themselves. But they are troubling indicator. The first step down many slippery slopes often seems harmless.   Just ask former Virginia governor Bob O’Donnell, now convicted of corruption for an accumulation of many gifts he and his wife accepted from a corporate pal of his.

If you are unfaithful in little things, can you be faithful in big ones?

By behaving as a fanboy of little judgment, Christie risks putting himself in the same sorry league as the clownish, but corrupt Philly lawmakers caught up in the recent bribery sting.

So, take in those Cowboys games, governor. Go ahead. Hug Jerry Jones all you want. But get out your checkbook and pay your own damn way into the game.

Just like the rest of us have to.

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