When Gov. Chris Christie accepted private jet flights and luxury box tickets from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones it sparked a min-controversy. He was bashed by more than a few Democrats, columnists took him to task and ethics complaints were filed. But a Quinnipiac University poll released on Jan. 26 reveals that New Jersey residents don't really care.

Gov. Chris Chritie and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

"The sports writers or the political writers might have cared about it, but 83 percent of New Jersey adults told Quinnipiac that it didn't make any difference at all," said Maurice "Mickey Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "It's really a little surprising because, by and large those kinds of perks for politicians, that's the kind of thing that annoys people, but in this case it didn't."

Just 13 percent said they think less of Christie for accepting the gifts from Jones while 3 percent actually view him more favorably. Exactly 7 in 10 think the Christie/Jones controversy is politically motivated. Only 11 percent felt this is a serious issue.

Only 8 percent of Garden State residents in the survey said the Cowboys are their favorite team. Nine percent gave the allegiance to the New York Jets.

"The only two teams that New Jerseyans really care about are the Giants and the Eagles. Thirty-six percent of New Jerseyans like the Giants and 17 percent like the eagles," Carroll said.

During Christie's monthly "Ask the Governor" program on Jan. 15, the governor brushed aside criticisms of his relationship with Jones, saying there was no basis for ethics complaints focused on the awarding of a Port Authority contract to a company partly owned by Jones.

“Just craziness,” Christie said.

Christie said he didn’t know Jones personally until the Cowboys owner reached out to him in 2013 after hearing a report that Christie had described himself as a Dallas fan.

“When he got the contract at the Port Authority, I didn’t know him,” Christie said. “Second, I didn’t even know who has the concession at the Port Authority [awarded to a Jones' related firm].”The group American Democracy Legal Fund, which supports Democratic presidential frontrunner Clinton, is calling on the commission to look into whether the governor violated ethics rules after he and his family traveled to Dallas on a private jet owned by Jones and received free tickets to watch the team play the Detroit Lions.

The complaint argues the complimentary tickets and the plane ride violate state ethics rules because Jones is also a part owner of Legends Hospitality, the group that was awarded a big Port Authority hospitality services contract. As New Jersey’s governor, Christie partially controls the PA and has appointed many top officials at the bi-state agency.

Christie said the complaint was the work of “partisan hacks” adding, “This came from Hillary Clinton’s PAC.”

Susan Guerrero, the head of the state Ethics Commission –and also a Christie appointee– has indicated ethics laws were not compromised.

From Jan. 15 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,406 New Jersey adults, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers called land lines and cell phones.
David Matthau contributed to this report.