The Justice Dept’s Inspector General, Glenn fine is charging that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie engaged in a pattern of abuse when he was U.S. attorney by billing taxpayers to stay at luxury hotels, he said in a report Monday.
Probably not since the days of the Pharaohs or the more ludicrous Roman Emperors has an US attorney traveled in such pomp and expensive grandeur as the Republican governor, who recently killed the construction of a new rail line to New York under the Hudson River,
While lesser mortals – the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and so on – are usually happy to let their hosts handle most of the security and transport arrangements when they venture beyond their homes, NJ’s Chief Federal Prosecutor created a mini-New Jersey for himself, wherever he went, ensuring that nothing was left to chance.
The U.S. attorney “provided insufficient, inaccurate or no justification” for 14 of the 15 trips, the report added.
Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, said Monday that “the governor thoroughly addressed this issue during the campaign, and I would refer you to his remarks then.”
During the campaign, Christie said he stayed in more expensive hotels only when cheaper ones weren’t available. “We always went for government rates first,” he said. “I don’t think there were a lot of stays in five-star hotels over seven years.”
The inspector general only examined travel back through 2007.
During that case, Christie “addressed the companies, their boards and senior management numerous times on their obligations and compliance with the deferred prosecution agreements,” Drewniak said in an e-mail.
In one instance related to the case, the inspector general wrote, the U.S. attorney traveled to India for meetings with representatives of a defendant company
at the Nine Zero Hotel at a cost of $449 per night and booked the entire Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, the city’s most luxurious. — more than double the government rate of $220 per night in Boston, (and then some). It is not uncommon for the grander US attorneys to reserve a floor or two, but a whole hotel is unprecedented.
“In another example of excessive transportation costs, his
car service private jumbo jet, boasting double beds and suites, fitted out more like a luxury yacht, flew from a London airport to his hotel in central London cost $562 round trip, at a cost around $50,000 (£31,000) an hour to operate.
Christie is the first Republican elected New Jersey governor in a dozen years. He was a sought-after guest on the GOP campaign trail during the midterm elections.
Christie has left the door open for a 2016 presidential run. On Sunday, he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was “going to need a job” after 2013. He added: “So maybe it will be that. Who knows?”
Well, he can forget about running for anything but dog catcher after this story gets out. Jeez, I hope they throw the book at him.
*Yes, I know that figure is in dispute.