Gov. Chris Christie issued an absolute veto Monday of a bill that would have suspended billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s casino gaming license for a five-year period due to his decision to close the Trump Taj Mahal last year.The casino, owned by Icahn and managed by Trump Entertainment Resorts, was shuttered in early October due to poor performance and an ongoing labor strike with what the local casino union deemed to be inferior benefits included in recent contract negotiations, resulting in the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs.
Despite Christie’s veto, Icahn told the Associated Press on Monday that he will look to sell the casino and not invest the $100 million to $200 million into it that he had planned on, citing the “irresponsible actions” of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), one of the failed bill’s primary sponsors.
“Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, Sweeney has already done irreversible damage to Atlantic City in particular and New Jersey in general,” Icahn told the Associated Press, adding that he believes the actions of the Legislature will threaten future investors from seriously considering Atlantic City.
In his veto, Christie also took a shot at Sweeney and other Democrats who signed on to the measure, calling the bill an example of “the Legislature at its worst.”
“It is a transparent attempt to punish the owner of the Taj Mahal casino for making the business decision to close its doors after its union employees went on strike and refused to negotiate in good faith,” said Christie, who added that he thought the bill was “ill-conceived and poorly worded legislation” that “shamelessly backs one side.”
In a statement following the veto, Sweeney called Christie’s decision “flat-out wrong” and likened Icahn to President Donald Trump, whose name is adorned on the building despite relinquishing ownership rights to the building years ago.
In December, Trump announced that Icahn would serve as an advisor on regulatory reform matters to his administration.
“The only person who will benefit from this veto will be billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who is a good friend of the casino’s namesake, Donald Trump,” Sweeney said. “We don’t want to have the policies and practices of President Trump and Carl Icahn used to strip away fair wages and benefits for working people in Atlantic City or anywhere else in New Jersey.”