New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said he has never been to the U.S. Virgin Islands, despite his own family owning real estate there.
Christie, who is also a wealthy real estate investor, is a member of the Christian Democratic party and a key ally of the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Republican Donald Trump.
Christie’s statement came in an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that aired Sunday on “This Week.”
He said he was not familiar with the island territory and that he had no interest in owning it.
The Virgin Islands are an autonomous group of about 3,300 islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
Christie was a member or board member of three entities at the time, according to the most recent public records available: New Jersey-based Colonial Property Development, owned by Christie’s son, Eric; the Christie family’s Jersey City-based Colony Properties, which is controlled by the Christie administration and includes his wife, Mary Pat; and Christie-owned, U.K.-based Christie Enterprises.
Christie also had a stake in Colony Properties when Christie served as the state’s attorney general.
The governor, who was sworn in as New Jersey’s governor on Jan. 3, 2017, has repeatedly defended his ownership of Jersey City properties in the Virgin Islands.
“I am not a real estate person.
I am a businessman,” he said in January.
“And I’ve been a real- estate person for years.
And it’s a good thing to be a businessman and to be in a place where you have property and people, you’re going to be able to attract and attract property that’s going to create jobs.”
Christie said he had bought properties in Jersey City and elsewhere in the U, including New York City, during the 1980s and 1990s and has never visited the Virgin Island.
“As a businessman, I’ve always said I never visit these places.
I’ve never seen them.
I don’t see them,” he told the ABC News program.
“But I’m very familiar with them.”
Christie’s comments come amid growing scrutiny about his involvement in Atlantic City’s casino industry and a controversy over whether he should recuse himself from matters involving the casinos in the United States.
Christie has defended his Atlantic City casinos as “profitable” and said he “absolutely” did not use public money to fund his casinos, including the controversial World of Color.
The Christie administration has repeatedly said Christie and his family had no involvement in the Atlantic City gambling operation.
In a statement, Christie’s office said, “Governor Christie has always been a big believer in the success of Atlantic City and the casinos and has worked with a broad range of individuals, including local and state officials, to help turn the city’s fortunes around.”
The statement said Christie did not make a profit from Atlantic City during his tenure as governor.
In April, Christie announced a $1.5 billion package to redevelop Atlantic City into a new $300 million convention center and other infrastructure projects.
He also announced the creation of a new state-run casino for $40 million, with the state expected to receive about $3.8 billion in tax revenue over the next decade.
Christie is also expected to introduce a bill to privatize the New Jersey Port Authority, the agency that oversees the Atlantic County-based ferry system.
The New Jersey Republican Party issued a statement after the ABC interview.
Christie should have never made that statement,” the party said.
“The governor has a long track record of lying and he continues to do so.
His comments are unacceptable and will not help his credibility.”
The governor also defended his ties to Trump.
He has long criticized President Donald Trump for his ties with Atlantic City casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who has a history of financing and promoting fringe politicians, including Trump’s father, Fred, and his former vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence.
“We have no financial ties with Donald Trump,” Christie said in a statement.
“In fact, I’m sure there are people who have no ties to him.
I’m a businessman.
And I think it’s good that we’re all working together and making sure the economy is growing and people are doing well.”
Christie told ABC News on Sunday that he has not visited the island for decades and is not interested in returning to the territory.
“If I did, I wouldn’t be running for president,” he added.
“To me, it’s not an island.
It’s a state.
And the Virgin Islanders have a tremendous amount of love and respect for New Jersey and I’m proud to have them.”