DOJ report: Chris Christie repeatedly exceeded limits on travel expenses as U.S. Attorney

posted at 3:31 pm on November 9, 2010 by Allahpundit

Fun dirt for his enemies to toss at him, meaningless ancient history to his fans. The public doesn’t much care about spending “scandals,” I think, unless they’re really egregious; otherwise, cynically or not, they’re shrugged off as a small sunk cost of American politics. (Remember how Marco Rubio was attacked early on for charges he made with the state party’s credit card? How’d that work out?) Maybe this hurts Christie more because of his rep as a fiscal warrior, not unlike how Al Gore’s penchant for carbon-belching limos gets attention because of his climate-change proselytizing, but since it happened before he was governor and he doesn’t look the part of a guy with a weakness for fancy living, I’m skeptical that it’ll stick.

The report does not name any individuals, but the Associated Press identified Christie as “U.S. Attorney C” in the report, based on a comparison of details in the report and public records of Christie’s travel expenses released under the Freedom of Information Act during his campaign for governor…

Of the 208 individuals who served as U.S. attorneys during the period reviewed by the office of Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, from 2007 to 2009, five “exhibited a noteworthy pattern of exceeding the government rate and whose travel documentation provided insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification for the higher lodging rates.”…

According to the report, Christie exceeded the government rate without adequate justification the most often as a percentage of travel. The investigation found that he submitted 23 vouchers including reimbursement for lodging from 2007 to 2009, of which 15, or 65 percent, exceeded the government rate. The inspector general found insufficient justification for 14 of the 15 cases…

The report also took note of Christie’s reimbursements for transportation to and from airports. In Boston, for example, to travel a distance of four miles, he arranged for car service that cost $236 round-trip, instead of a taxi. And in London, car service between the airport and a hotel cost taxpayers $562 for a round trip.

Three DOJ officials confirmed to Bloomberg that “U.S. Attorney C” is indeed Chris Christie. Also this:

Christie declined to be interviewed as part of the examination, but his secretary at the time was questioned. Inspectors said memos submitted by Christie and his secretary contained misleading statements, saying “that the government lodging rate was not available in the particular city on the particular dates … According to the U.S. attorney’s secretary, the language of the memoranda did not literally mean that there were ‘no hotels available at the government rate in the particular city’ but that the government rate was not available at the hotel or hotels that fit her criteria — a ‘decent’ hotel at or near the meeting site.”

No doubt the local papers are plowing through his travel expense reports as governor as we speak to see whether the pattern has recurred. As I write this, Quinnipiac is out with a new poll showing his approval in New Jersey at 51/38; to put that in perspective, in this otherwise reliably blue state, The One’s approval is at 46/50. Exit question: Will this cost him politically? The last post about earmarks versus Social Security and Medicare has me thinking about priorities on spending, with a strong hunch that if he somehow figures out a way to make NJ’s pension system solvent, the public just might let him slide on a few luxurious nights at the Four Seasons.


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Headline is misleading …

He filed ACCURATE travel vouchers and went over on expenses for, in his opinon, valid reasons.

The Department Of Justice Travel Office obviously agreed with him – since they paid his vouchers (they didn’t have to – they could have stuck him with the extra bill).

It’s the IG that has a problem – but their problem is with the Travel Office that approved the vouchers – not Christy.

HondaV65 on November 9, 2010 at 3:34 PM

I thought this smelled a little odd.

Count to 10 on November 9, 2010 at 4:31 PM

Well it’s not stealing if I say give it to him. Duh.

Ronnie on November 9, 2010 at 4:26 PM

point taken, but these people are supposed to be public servants. If I can make do with a cab ride and a crappy hotel when I travel, so should they.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Anticipating Christie’s response, the image that comes to mind is another big man, Babe Ruth, stepping up to the plate and pointing to the area of the fence where he’s going to blast the next home run.

Sowell Disciple on November 9, 2010 at 4:32 PM

He made a grave error taking the car service from the airport in London. I tried it once and it took almost three hours. Always take the train into the city.

flyoverland on November 9, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Really? It is too much to ask that our pols neither spend their states into oblivion nor steal from taxpayers? That’s where we are now? As long as you’re not as corrupt/stupid as the last guy, feel free to steal?

Wow.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:25 PM

$2,176 in 7 years, per the report. Get over yourself.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Grow Fins on November 9, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Hey Finny! Welcome back! How’s the bottom feeding?

BTW, the election worked out pretty well for ya, eh?

Fear the Fat Man!

Bruno Strozek on November 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Fun dirt for his enemies to toss at him, meaningless ancient history to his fans. The public doesn’t much care about spending “scandals,”

..then, AP, why on earth bring it up? I mean, it’s kinda like all of the conservative or GOP pundits giving Obama advice as to how to resurrect his pathetic presidency. Let the Child Emperor figure it out for himself..

..or not figure it out.

The War Planner on November 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Nothing in medical or wages…he paid all medical himself rather than subject himself to the pathetic Workers’ Compensation law in NJ. If it were you or I, you would be in a clinic somewhere in Newark waiting for a day for your treatment. Mr. Big got the absolute best at Cooper Hospital. MEOW.

NJ Red on November 9, 2010 at 4:25 PM

So the Escalade that was totalled was never replaced? Bet is was, and cost a bit more than two large.

fogw on November 9, 2010 at 4:36 PM

You know after MOs trip to Spain and this extravagant 200 million dollar trip to India, I’m having a hard time getting exercised over this…

CCRWM on November 9, 2010 at 4:40 PM

@CCRWM: you meant to say, $200 million per day…. not total. Add that up for a quick egads!

chai on November 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM

No doubt the local papers are plowing through his travel expense reports as governor as we speak to see whether the pattern has recurred.

Shame they didn’t have the time to plow through Obama’s records. Oops, forgot – that would be racist.

Oopsdaisy on November 9, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Surprised to see some support for Christie in the comments here. I thought he was a dirty, dirty, Castle-endorsing RINO?

Allahpundit on November 9, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Aw man, you need more coffee. You’re usually much more subtle when trolling your own threads ;)

DrAllecon on November 9, 2010 at 4:46 PM

The bigger story here is that the DOJ is unashamedly targeting prominent Republicans. They almost certainly spent more $ in labor putting this report together than the amount of $ Christie submitted in overage.

I cannot wait until that POS Holder is gone.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I’m sorry but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

redeye on November 9, 2010 at 4:47 PM

$2,176 in 7 years, per the report. Get over yourself.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Yeah, go in to your workplace and tell the boss you’ve stolen $2,176 over 7 years. See how that goes over.

I’m glad to know theft doesn’t bother you at all. Nice moral compass you got there.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

The inspector general found insufficient justification for 14 of the 15 cases…
The report also took note of Christie’s reimbursements for transportation to and from airports. In Boston, for example, to travel a distance of four miles, he arranged for car service that cost $236 round-trip, instead of a taxi. And in London, car service between the airport and a hotel cost taxpayers $562 for a round trip.

That’s a big-sounding number, but it is standard price for a car service. Costs are based on trips and not miles. It costs the same to have a car drive you 4 miles or 50.
Boston airport cabs are around $50 round trip to almost anywhere downtown, so the difference was likely less than $200 and justified based on time and security. I imagine Christie doesn’t fit too well in a standard cab either. ;-)

rockmom on November 9, 2010 at 4:49 PM

what a silly non-story.

rob verdi on November 9, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Is it more than $200 Million per day, if so, let’s crucify him.

rjoco1 on November 9, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Christie submitted them, legitimately.

The DOJ could have chosen to pay none, or part, or all. They paid them all.

The story ends there.

The Lone Platypus on November 9, 2010 at 4:56 PM

SO, who gets the credit for this DOJ report? Who put the DOJ in charge of collecting this information while they continue to ignore the HUNDREDS of cases where Democrats are reportedly involved in Voter Fraud throughout the last elections?

Why should anyone take this as anything except for the hit piece authorized by the Democrat Party? At least we now know that the DOJ is in deep with the 0bamaGanda Propagandists. ;o)

DannoJyd on November 9, 2010 at 4:56 PM

I’m glad to know theft doesn’t bother you at all. Nice moral compass you got there.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

It’s not theft because the reports were accurate and the overage was approved. Theft would be submitting inaccurate expense reports, like for trips never taken or services never used.

Plus, the reasons given in the article why the expenses aren’t justified are bogus. For example, the car service in London. Due to a health-related emergency I had to take a car service one way from Heathrow to central London in 2008 and it was about $200 without tip. So that amount is about right.

Again, get over yourself. This is a small amount of money, and it was justified, and it wasn’t theft. It’s a hit piece on a DOJ report targeting the opposition. That’s all it is.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Yeah, go in to your workplace and tell the boss you’ve stolen $2,176 over 7 years. See how that goes over.

I’m glad to know theft doesn’t bother you at all. Nice moral compass you got there.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

He wasn’t stealing if the DOJ travel office approved the expenses, which it did. This is an IG report that claims the DOJ travel office approved some “excessive” expenses for U.S. Attorneys. And the report does not take into account the additional security needs Christie had when he traveled.

One of the problems in getting good people to serve in government is the stupid rules about travel expenses and other picayune crap like this. Official government per-diems rarely cover anything close to an average day’s expenses, government-rate hotels are often shabby places in dangerous neighborhoods, and the government’s interest is often better served by spending a little more on such things. But rules is rules.

rockmom on November 9, 2010 at 4:57 PM

OK… so help me out here. Until I retired in ’92, I routinely turned down excessive travel expenses from most of my traveling staff. We gave generous allowances, but sometimes our folks exceeded even those. The solution: they paid the excess themselves. I know. I know, no one in government could conceive of such a complicated plan. Here’s an idea: lets turn healthcare over to them. Friggen idiots!

therealfranklin on November 9, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

Here’s the typical screech from the left when they need moral equivalence….wait for it…..

“You people didn’t say a peep when…fill in the blank….did it, so what’s the problem now!”

LOL!

belad on November 9, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Wait a minute-If he turned in the vouchers and they decided to pay him, how’s it stealing? I must have missed that class in Business 101. If they had a problem then, why not make him pay the difference from what was alotted-did he have a set per diem? This story is very vague-y.

di butler on November 9, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Meh. Non-story really, but I couldn’t care less.

Christie is too liberal for my taste, but I am sure he is fine as NJ Governor.

Norwegian on November 9, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Allahpundit,
This is similar to a Huff-Po level Mega Palin scandal, don’t get cranky because are annoyed you bothered with it at all.

rob verdi on November 9, 2010 at 5:07 PM

because people are annoyed you bothered with it at all. My bad typo!

rob verdi on November 9, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Official government per-diems rarely cover anything close to an average day’s expenses, government-rate hotels are often shabby places in dangerous neighborhoods, and the government’s interest is often better served by spending a little more on such things.

I think that entire line of thinking is BS. And I regard “excessive spending” as theft. So other thieves said it was ok…. so what? I like Christie as much as the next guy, and if he were to explain, in his normal fashion, why he needed more money than he was allocated, and it made sense, then ok. But if it was, as I assume, “I didn’t want to stay in the shabby hotel” or “I didn’t want to take a smelly cab ride” that doesn’t cut it.

People in government shouldn’t have better accommodations than I do just because they work in government. In fact, people should be disincentivized to work in government by being forced to do with the most meager accommodations possible.

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 5:17 PM

It’s not theft because the reports were accurate and the overage was approved. Theft would be submitting inaccurate expense reports, like for trips never taken or services never used.

That seems awfully bureaucratic. If govt. parasites are getting fat on my dime, I call it theft, approved overage or not. (no offense to the good gov. intended)

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 9, 2010 at 5:20 PM

I like Christie as much as the next guy, and if he were to explain, in his normal fashion, why he needed more money than he was allocated, and it made sense, then ok.

How do you know he didn’t explain that in the expense reports we don’t have access to? We only have the Philly Inquirer’s characterization of the details in the DOJ report.

I agree that people in government shouldn’t have luxury accommodations. But try to keep some perspective. The amount of overage was something like $300 per year. Given the high cost of hotels and transportation in the cities where Christie was most likely to travel in that position, that is a very small amount of money.

At any rate, I think we can confidently expect more such reports for prominent Republicans in the future. I doubt a single 2012 contender would emerge unscathed if the power of the DOJ and the MSM are brought to bear.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM

noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

moonbatkiller on November 9, 2010 at 5:48 PM

of which 15, or 65 percent, exceeded the government rate.

Do they tell us what the government rate was ? ’cause I know as well as the next person that this particular bureaucracy never keeps up with real rates, and it is possible that the “government rate” could have been like, $50/night for a hotel in Manhattan or something.

runner on November 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM

I think that entire line of thinking is BS.

No it is not. Probably close to the truth.

runner on November 9, 2010 at 5:55 PM

if anyone gets a chance watch the movie ‘Absence of Malice’ with Paul Newman, and Sally Field. A good movie about being accurate but not truthful.

RonK on November 9, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Yawn…….counter with Her Majesty Nancy Pelosi and her weekly trips home to the West Coast Mansion via USAF jet.

GarandFan on November 9, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Well, was he effective in his position? Perhaps the set limits were unrealistically low? Was the spending frivolous?

GFW on November 9, 2010 at 6:15 PM

If President Obama’s travel expenses (wow) are not a issue, why should Christie’s travel expenses be a problem? Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s only a problem if you’re not a liberal. Makes sense now.

stefano1 on November 9, 2010 at 6:17 PM

If the approving authority and paying authority didn’t like the expenses he claimed, they should have just denied the claim THEN and taken care of the “problem” THEN!!

Khun Joe on November 9, 2010 at 6:33 PM

They’ll dog him like Sarah….

“the new tone”

golfmann on November 9, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Hey, it takes a lotta money to keep the FatMan fed!

(Just kidding – I love this guy….)

TeresainFortWorth on November 9, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Ok, I didn’t read the article but I’m guessing food allowance?

Caper29 on November 9, 2010 at 6:59 PM

And I regard “excessive spending” as theft.

You can regard it as a donkey too, if you’d like, but that doesn’t make it so.

xblade on November 9, 2010 at 7:21 PM

At any rate, I think we can confidently expect more such reports for prominent Republicans in the future. I doubt a single 2012 contender would emerge unscathed if the power of the DOJ and the MSM are brought to bear.

Missy on November 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM

The MSM ‘Chosen One’, like John McCain will not have a blemish. Of course he will also be UN-ELECTABLE, but what the heck…..

belad on November 9, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Pay no attention to voter fraud…look over here! Shiny Republican! Spent shiny money! Lookee! Lookee!

MunDane68 on November 9, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Glenn Fine, Hit piece. $2100 over 7 freaking years! devout leftist NYC liberal.

Egfrow on November 9, 2010 at 8:14 PM

I heard the entire amount was under $3000.

Nice priorities, DoJ.

disa on November 9, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Surprised to see some support for Christie in the comments here. I thought he was a dirty, dirty, Castle-endorsing RINO?

Allahpundit on November 9, 2010 at 3:40 PM

You come off as petty, provincial, and stupid when you troll your own blog this way.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on November 9, 2010 at 10:20 PM

I would say that the Anointed One is spending rather a lot also.

Christie evidently spent over the government rate by $2,000 over a period of six years.

Obama spends $600,000,000 over a period of three days.

They must be really really scared of Christie.

Dhuka on November 9, 2010 at 11:11 PM

I would say that the Anointed One is spending rather a lot also.

Christie evidently spent over the government rate by $2,000 over a period of six years.

Obama spends $600,000,000 over a period of three days.

They must be really really scared of Christie.

Dhuka on November 9, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Hillary will gut him like a stuck pig in the primary. Don’t believe her ‘not running’ spin. Next Summer she will succumb to a ‘grassroots movement’ of her supporters pleading with her to run. Hillary will be very hard to beat in the general.

slickwillie2001 on November 9, 2010 at 11:36 PM

They must be really really scared of Christie.

Dhuka on November 9, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Glenn Fine is the same guy who went after Alberto Gonzales when Dems tried to make a scandal of the White House Laywer dismissals under Bush. Now’ he’s after little ol Christie. They are positively scared. He’s to supposed to be a Dem hitman.

Egfrow on November 10, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Yeah, yeah, yeah……….let me know when we start goin’ thru Pelosi’s expense reports! Then perhaps I’ll give a rusty!

AllosaursRus on November 10, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Surprised to see some support for Christie in the comments here. I thought he was a dirty, dirty, Castle-endorsing RINO?

Allahpundit on November 9, 2010 at 3:40 PM

You come off as petty, provincial, and stupid when you troll your own blog this way.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on November 9, 2010 at 10:20 PM

So I guess that just makes you, what, kindy gardner?

If he didn’t comment on his own blog, I’d think he’d be seriously out of touch with his peers, idiot! What exactly is your point???

AllosaursRus on November 10, 2010 at 1:43 AM

I think the real story here is that the Obama DOJ is investigating an up-and-coming conservative and not the rampant voter fraud that has taken place.

Geez…;.$300/year on average; which by the way, Gov. Christy reported!! This is such a non-story.

I’m sure I’ve spent more than 300/yr w/o my wife’s consent. People get a grip. The Obama administration has just taken at least 20% of our savings (Treasure estimates) via QE2 (quantitative easing) without our consent. Where is the outrage over that!

JeffVader on November 10, 2010 at 2:33 AM

It’s truly a shame that they don’t dive into Air Pelosi with the same vigor.

Oh wait.. this is the MSM were talking about, what was I thinking.

UncleOlaf on November 10, 2010 at 6:13 AM

Now could we have the DOJ look at Nancy Pelosi’s 757 bills? Along with the outrageous booze and food bills? Oh and don’t forget the fresh flowers for her office.

Wills on November 10, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Sounds like the report may have been factually accurate, but still somewhat lacking in “truthiness”.

RegularJoe on November 10, 2010 at 10:09 AM

For the brain-dead

The per diem and lodging expense guidelines for government funded travel are exceeded all the time. Mainly because there are occasions where the “within guidelines” sites are unavailable. When an expense report is submitted, the travel office can, upon review, choose to pay only the amount provided for by the guidelines, or if warranted, the full amount. Christie submitted proper expense reports, and the travel office decided to pay the full amount.

Exactly where is the theft or abuse?

I’ve submitted travel reports with greater overages on a single trip under military orders, and been paid, because the travel office review determined that the amount paid was appropriate under the circumstances.

Stick a fork in this one, and let’s wait for the next fishing expedition…

Freelancer on November 10, 2010 at 2:13 PM

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