New Jersey's Economic Development Authority has handed out more than $2 billion in tax breaks since 2014, more than the total amount issued during the decade before Gov. Christie took office.
The aid has gone disproportionately to businesses locating in Camden, a city of 77,000 people that ranks among the nation's poorest. Development projects in the city received $630 million in future tax breaks last year.
A close look at the grants - which amount to nearly four times Camden's annual budget - indicates that they may do less for the city than advertised and more for Christie's political alliances.
The law that set up the more generous grant program was adopted in 2013 by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by Christie.
Most of the jobs that will move to Camden are filled by employees who now work just a few miles away - a strategy "off-the-charts crazy," according to Michael Doherty, a Republican state senator.
One tax break exceeded the value of the company that received it. Another went to a developer who owes New Jersey millions of dollars in long-unpaid loans.
And nearly all of the recipients boast notable political connections - either through an affiliation with George E. Norcross III, the prominent South Jersey power broker, or through donations to Christie and the Republican Governors Association during his tenure overseeing it.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said in an e-mail that critics of the tax breaks "offer no alternative plans for creating jobs, growing the economy, or renewing our urban centers."
The scale of New Jersey's generosity has bolstered one profitable new industry: the resale of tax incentives by businesses that can't use them.
Economic-development incentives are transferable under state law. When New Jersey awards tax breaks in excess of a company's tax bill, the recipient can sell them to an unrelated corporation looking to pay less in taxes.
The 76ers, for example, told the Associated Press last year that the team expected to sell a portion of the $82 million in New Jersey incentives it received to locate a facility in Camden because it doesn't make enough money to use them all.
In at least one case, the value of the tax credits outstripped the value of the business that got them.
In November, a Maryland medical testing start-up, DioGenix Inc., received a $7.9 million tax incentive to relocate to Camden. Two months later, DioGenix sold itself for between $8 million and $10.9 million to a buyer that announced it would resell the tax breaks for at least $6 million.
Timothy Lizura, president of the Economic Development Authority, said he was unaware of DioGenix's coming sale when it received its state tax credits but called the sale evidence of success. The incentives are awarded only when companies meet their job and investment obligations.
"If a capitalized company comes in and buys a start-up company and they live up to the approval we had, how great is that?" he said.
DioGenix's buyer, Amarantus Biosciences Holdings Inc. of San Francisco, has been unprofitable since its founding in 2008, has less than $2 million in assets, and warned investors in November that there is doubt that it can stay in business, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
The company did not return phone calls over several weeks.
Many of the tax breaks involve projects connected to Norcross, whose tacit support for Christie is widely viewed as having been vital to Christie's 2009 victory over Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
Norcross is on the board of Holtec, a nuclear equipment manufacturer. He also sits on the board of Cooper University Hospital in Camden, which both received a grant and is the indirect beneficiary of two more - one to build housing for its students and the other to DioGenix, which the state authority said moved to Camden to work with Cooper.
Some recipients also have business relationships with Norcross or his family. Over the last three years, Cooper has paid more than $1 million to Norcross' insurance brokerage and more than $2 million to a law firm partially owned by his brother Philip, though the hospital's financial statements said those relationships predated George Norcross' tenure on its board.
Along with his firm's work for Cooper, Philip Norcross' firm represented the 76ers for the negotiation of the team's $82 million in tax credits.
Dan Fee, a spokesman for Norcross, said in an e-mail that there was nothing wrong with his interest.
"He's been an active and regular cheerleader for companies to relocate to the city, so it's not a surprise that he has relationships with many of their leaders - he's been personally advocating for them to move to Camden," Fee said.
Lizura said the board decides what deals get made, not Norcross.
As money has flowed to development in Camden, some has trickled back into politics.
The lead investor in the 76ers, Joshua Harris, donated $50,000 to the RGA during the time Christie ran it. Other part-owners of the team have given tens of thousands more to the group or Christie's campaigns.
A political committee supported by employees of Lockheed Martin, another recipient of a Camden grant, pumped more than $100,000 into the governors' group during Christie's tenure.
No donations are as notable as those from Pennsylvania developer Israel Roizman.
Last February, the state awarded incentives worth $13.4 million to Broadway Associates 2010 L.L.C., a real estate development company he controls. The project: refurbishing 175 low-income housing units that deteriorated under two decades of Roizman's ownership.
Roizman received the tax breaks despite having failed to repay a state loan on the nearby Camden Townhouses development. A company he owns owes New Jersey's Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency a total of $6.2 million in unpaid principal and interest on a loan that has been overdue by several years.
The agency does not consider the loan in default because it is still hoping to work out a repayment deal, spokeswoman Tammori Petty said.
Roizman is one of the region's top political donors, giving as much as $100,000 each year and raising six-figure sums for national candidates.
Though his contributions have overwhelmingly supported Democrats - Roizman was a campaign bundler for President Obama - he cut a $10,000 check to the Christie-led governors association in late 2013, just before Christie became chairman and a few months before receiving his tax breaks.
Last year, when Christie was at the helm, Roizman gave the group the same amount.
Asked how he received additional money from New Jersey despite owing the state so much money, Roizman said, "Why don't you call the state and let them explain that to you?" and then hung up.