TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The co-chairs of the legislative committee investigating the Port Authority have discussed whether they want to look into the possibility of ethics violations stemming from the relationship between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Christie has come under fire for attending Cowboys games in Jones’ owners box. Christie, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was televised Sunday hugging Jones after the Cowboys’ playoff win over the Detroit Lions.

READ MORE: Application Process For Connecticut's Family, Medical Leave Program Opens

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the failed high-five and the awkward embrace by Christie, Jones and a third man initially just drew chuckles when they were caught on camera. But more serious concerns have now been raised.

Christie has come under fire for attending Cowboys games in Jones’ owners box.

Also, a Christie spokesman told that Jones paid for both the governor’s ticket and transportation to Sunday’s playoff game.

“We think it’s pretty clear that there was an ethical violation here,” said Brad Woodhouse of the American Democracy Legal Fund.

Woodhouse’s group has filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Ethics Commission, claiming an ethical violation by Christie in accepting the tickets and private plane rides from Jones.

Click here to read the complaint letter.

“We know that the Cowboys and Jerry Jones have had business with the state of New Jersey through the Port Authority,” Woodhouse said.

A report this week in the International Business Times alleges Christie advocated in 2013 for one of Jones’ business interests – Legends Hospitality – to land a deal with the Port Authority to run the observation deck at One World Trade Center.

One World Trade Center is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is controlled jointly by Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Both Christie and Cuomo pushed for Legends Hospitality.

A spokesman for Christie said he went to the game “as a guest of Jerry Jones, who provided both the ticket and transportation at no expense to New Jersey taxpayers.”

Further, an executive order under the Code of Conduct for the governor said a governor may accept gifts and travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.

But Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), questioned whether the Cowboys game trip met those standards.

READ MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell Defense Attacks Actor Accuser's Account

“The real question here is, why is there this exception, and does Mr. Jones really constitute a friend?” Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski is co-chair of the joint legislative committee investigating the Port Authority, including the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures,

“Seems to fall within that category of behavior that at least rises to the occasion of asking questions,” he told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Wisniewski paraphrased advice he said Christie once gave in a speech years before taking invitations to Cowboys game: “The fact that you can take a sandwich doesn’t mean you should. If you’re offered, you should say no.”

He said the situation with Christie and Jones is worth looking into.

“What we’re looking at is whether the Port Authority is yet again in the middle of a scandal that it shouldn’t be,” he said. “What we ought to look at is how this contract was awarded. What were the criteria? What are the financial benefits to the state?”

With a touch of humor, Wisniewski did add there is at least one thing that doesn’t need investigating.

“The governors sports preferences.” Wisniewski said. “If he wants to be a Dallas fan, then that’s fine.”

The panel’s co-chairs have not decided whether to delve into the matter.

Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a member of the committee, told Putney he believes the issue is trivial and doesn’t warrant involvement from the panel.

Legends Hospitality also runs concessions at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium as well as the home stadium of the New York Yankees, who also own a stake in the business.

An April 2013 news release indicated that both Cuomo and Christie called on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners to approve the agreement for Legends Hospitality at One World Trade Center. The board went on to approve the deal.

However, Yankees president Randy Levine — a Legends board member — told the Wall Street Journal that neither Christie nor Jones were involved in the bidding process.

The governor told WFAN radio on Monday that he hopes to attend the team’s next playoff game in Green Bay, and Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas Tuesday that the Cowboys need Christie’s “mojo.”

MORE NEWS: 1,000 Cresskill Students Still Learning Remotely Months After Ida Destroyed School

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
[display-posts category=”news” posts_per_page=”4″]