An executive order Mr. Christie signed in 2010 allows New Jersey governors to have travel and related expenses paid by foreign governments; it does not specifically address gifts such as the parties the king held for him, but the governor’s staff said it was covered under a provision that allowed gifts from personal friends. [New York Times]
BACK DURING the 2012 election season before Governor Chris Christie‘s star began to fade over bridgegate, a funny thing happened on the way to his possible vice presidential nod on Mitt Romney‘s ticket. The Mittster didn’t like what his team unearthed when they went looking for dirt that might hurt Christie and slosh over him. The New York Times story certainly begins the exposure of Chris Christie’s expensive tastes, which he made sure was covered under New Jersey law.
Anyone who read Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Double Down has already seen the foreshadowing of what’s just now beginning to unfold for Christie. Their book was the first sign of trouble to come.
“[Christie] sounds like the biggest a****le in the world,” [Romney chief strategist Stuart] Stevens griped to his partner, Russ Shriefer… Trenton insisted on private jets, lavish spreads of food, space for a massive entourage. Romney ally Wayne Berman looked at the bubble around Christie and thought, He’s not the President of the United States, you know.
[…] The vetters were stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record. There was a 2010 Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in his job prior to the governorship, which criticized him for being “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and for offering “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at swank hotels like the Four Seasons.
[…] Then there was Todd Christie, the Governor’s brother, who in 2008 agreed to a settlement of civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he acknowledged making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.” (Todd also oversaw a family foundation whose activities and purpose raised eyebrows among the vetters.)
— Double Down: Game Change 2012
As United States attorney for New Jersey, Christie so bent the spending rules that the Justice Department tightened rules and other elements to keep this from happening ever again.
Groups like Choose N.J. and the Republican Jewish Coalition, which also contributed to the Israel trip, do not have to disclose their expenses.
As United States attorney for New Jersey, Mr. Christie developed a reputation for flouting the rules on travel. A Justice Department report after he left office found that he was the prosecutor who most often exceeded the charges allowed for hotel stays in different cities, without properly searching for a cheaper alternative, or justifying any exemption from the rules. He stayed at a Four Seasons in Washington and a new boutique hotel in Boston, for example, at more than double the cost allowed for those cities.
The report concerned hotel stays, but Mr. Christie’s preference for car services over taxis earned a footnote: He paid $236 to travel four miles from the airport in Boston, and $562 for a round-trip between Central London and Heathrow. Mr. Christie, who by then was governor, declined to be interviewed by investigators preparing the Justice Department report.
Choose N.J. is an outfit to which Governor Christie appointed one of his longtime friends to run as its president and chief executive, Michele Brown. She is not only his neighbor, but worked for him during his U.S. attorney tenure. On Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect” on Tuesday, one of the reporters on the New York Times piece, Kate Zernike, described their relationship, which came under scrutiny at one time because Christie loaned her $47,000 tax free and caused a stir when the story broke.
It’s nothing new for politicians in the upper echelon of national politics to fly private jets. Hillary Clinton does it all the time. In fact, I’m one of the few political writers who doesn’t think anything about it. Celebrities fly private jets all the time, even minor stars can’t wait to make the jump. Someone like Hillary Clinton would also make herself a target for nefarious action if her commercial travel was public. But I’m a minority among people on this subject, so presidential candidates have to take incoming when they make these types of choices, for whatever reason.
One thing Mrs. Clinton has never said as a reason for her doing so is just one item that sets Christie apart from his fellow hot shot pols.
“I relish these experiences and exposures, especially for my kids,” he told a reporter for The Times last summer. “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”
Perhaps these expensive trips for Christie and his inability to curb his appetites for luxury trips that top $30,000 for hotel bills will be seen as political business as usual.
Hillary Clinton has taken a lot of grief for how she travels, as well as been scrutinized for every move she makes. Over two decades it’s led to a public media spectacle that she’s fought and survived, but it hasn’t been pretty or easy.
Governor Chris Christie, by all accounts, lost the vice presidential nod from Mitt Romney because of what was uncovered while he was being vetted. This New York Times article is just the tip of the iceberg on what Christie will face once he announces his 2016 candidacy.
There are a lot of reporters out there digging up all the juicy tidbits that Republicans know exist about Chris Christie, and according to what’s just now being unearthed, Christie aides are bracing for even worse.