The donors who bankrolled the super PAC backing Gov. Christie's now-finished presidential campaign included big financiers and business names: hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen, Home Depot cofounder Ken Langone, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
But wealthy local contributors also supported the super PAC, America Leads, which raised nearly $20 million before Christie exited the race two weeks ago.
The super PAC's top donors in the Philadelphia area included Joseph Buckelew, chairman of the Conner Strong & Buckelew insurance firm, based in Marlton, who gave $150,000, and Vernon Hill, the former Commerce Bank chairman, who owns a Moorestown mansion and gave $100,000.
Vahan Gureghian, a lawyer from Gladwyne whose company manages charter schools - including in Camden and Atlantic City - gave $50,000, as did Holt Logistics, a Gloucester City-based company that struck a deal in 2014 to operate the Port of Paulsboro.
Unlike Christie's presidential campaign, which couldn't receive donations greater than $2,700 in the primary, America Leads was able to accept unlimited donations.
While Christie is out of the 2016 race - he dropped out Feb. 10, a day after a disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire - his term as governor runs until January 2018.
"Citizens in New Jersey should be concerned about these donors and what their large support of Christie's America Leads super PAC might have bought or continues to buy them," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics.
"This is not to say there is anything nefarious," Krumholz said. But "people need to be aware of who the players are. . . . There may be donors who had no expectation Christie would advance in the presidential race" but were motivated by "interests at the state level."
Top local donors contacted about their reason for giving to the super PAC did not return messages or were not available for comment.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts referred a request for comment to "campaign staff and/or finance contacts." A campaign spokeswoman said the question was a super PAC matter; as a super PAC, America Leads was barred from coordinating with Christie's campaign.
In recruiting donors, America Leads "focused on individuals who had been supportive of the governor in his prior races, or who we knew would be receptive to his vision and record and how they stood out in this field of candidates," said Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the super PAC.
The super PAC has about $150,000 left, Martin said Friday. But he called the figure "very rough" and said America Leads was still paying off obligations, so the final amount could change.
As of Jan. 31 - one day before the Iowa caucuses, and a little more than a week before the New Hampshire primary - America Leads had $763,582 cash on hand, according to a filing Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
The super PAC got an assist from some big donors in the final days of Christie's campaign. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has hosted Christie in his luxury box at games, gave $200,000 on Jan. 22.
Cohen, the hedge-fund manager whose SAC Capital Advisors pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013, and his wife, Alexandra, gave $2 million on Jan. 22. Together, the Cohens gave America Leads a total of $6 million; they were the largest donors to the super PAC.
As a presidential candidate, Christie argued that the aim of campaign-finance laws should not be to curb political donations - which he considered an unrealistic goal - but to ensure transparency, so voters could determine whether a candidate was "bought." He said candidates should be able to accept unlimited donations, provided they were disclosed within 24 hours.
Now, super PACs file periodic reports to the FEC.
In the Philadelphia area, top donors to America Leads included:
Joseph Buckelew, $150,000. Buckelew, an Ocean County Republican, is chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, the Marlton-based insurance firm where Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III is executive chairman.
Vernon Hill, $100,000. Hill owns a Moorestown mansion valued at $34 million. After stepping down as Commerce Bank's CEO, he invested in Philadelphia-based Republic Bank, which has locations in South Jersey.
Vahan Gureghian, $50,000. The Montgomery County Republican is a prominent local donor - he was a major contributor to former Gov. Tom Corbett - and founder of CSMI, a company that manages the Chester Community Charter School in Pennsylvania. In 2013, the New Jersey Department of Education granted CSMI a charter to open Camden Community Charter School; the company also opened Atlantic City Community Charter School in 2014.
Holt Logistics, $50,000. The company became the operator of the Port of Paulsboro in 2014 after another company, Holtec International, was approved to receive $260 million in tax incentives by the state to develop on the Camden waterfront. The deal spurred Holt, which had space on the waterfront, to relocate.
Howard Needleman, $35,000. The president of a Cherry Hill-based real estate firm, Needleman and a group of investors purchased the L3 Communications Building in Camden for $35 million a little more than a year ago. The property was owned by the state Economic Development Authority, which had reached a sales agreement with Camden's Coopers Ferry Partnership.
Several local firms that have been awarded state and local government contracts each gave the super PAC $25,000: Capehart Scatchard of Mount Laurel, Pennoni Associates of Philadelphia, and Remington, Vernick & Arango Engineers of Cinnaminson, an affiliate of Remington & Vernick.
Also giving $25,000 was O'Neill Associates of King of Prussia. The real estate firm's founder, J. Brian O'Neill, has sought to build drug and alcohol treatment centers, including in Haddonfield and Gloucester Township.