NEWARK – Hit with reporters’ questions here today about the business connections of his former chief of economic development, Gov. Jon Corzine said he did not know when he selected him that Gary D. Rose had a financial stake in the Xanadu Meadowlands project.
Corzine himself had close ties to a private firm behind the large-scale East Rutherford development – envisioned as a $2 billion pleasure dome of shops and entertainment hot-spots and slated to open next year.
In his capacity as economic chief, Rose helped facilitate a privately funded bailout of the once-floundering project, even as he owned stock in a company that stood to lose over a billion dollars, according to The Record reporters Jeff Pilletts and John Reitmeyer.
Rose left the Corzine administration in June.
For his part, " I liquidated my stake," said Corzine, who reminded reporters that an ethics advisory panel cleared him to sign a bill last Thursday, which could help Dune CEO Daniel Neidich, a good friend and former business partner of Corzine’s, bring the nation’s second-largest aquarium to Xanadu.
"We wouldn’t have signed the bill (for the aquarium) without the ethics panel," said the governor. "All we want to see is a successful economic project."
The 4.5 million-square foot Xanadu site is on state-owned property within the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority operates the complex.
"The Xanadu story is not helpful," said Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex).