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.