Gov. Christie, while serving as U.S. attorney, billed taxpayers for luxury hotels on trips and routinely failed to follow federal travel regulations, according to a report released Monday.
The report, released by the U.S. Department of Justice's inspector general, found that while many U.S. attorneys and their subordinates approved their own travel and expenses, the vast majority complied with the approved government lodging rate.
However, the investigation found, "a small number of U.S. attorneys routinely exceeded the government rate, by large amounts, with insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification."
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.
Christie, who spent recent weeks campaigning for fellow Republicans across the country and has been hailed by conservatives as a possible candidate for national office, declined Monday to respond to the report. His communications office referred reporters to comments he made in 2009, when the campaign of his opponent, then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine, obtained Christie's travel documents.
Christie said at the time that he stayed in more expensive hotels only when cheaper ones were not available.
Christie served as the U.S. attorney in New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. As a candidate for governor and in his first year as governor, he has called for spending cuts and more ethical behavior from public officials.
During one stay in Washington, for example, Christie stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel at a cost of $475 per night, more than double the government rate of $233 per night, justifying the cost by explaining that he was scheduled to speak at the hotel early in the morning.
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.
Christie declined to be interviewed by the Inspector General's Office, but provided a letter stating that he was unable to provide "any other specific information" to supplement the travel documentation.
"Most of the justification memoranda that we found simply stated that the government rate was unavailable, but provided no substantiation for this claim," the report says. "In four cases, there was no justification memorandum at all."
Somehow I don't think I should hold my breath waiting for Joe Scarborough to ask Christie about the hypocrisy of rhetoric against government spending while using expense accounts to stay at a level of luxury he couldn't afford otherwise.
I just got back from a conference. Because I combined the trip with a visit to family, I paid my own baggage check fees (because I took a bigger suitcase for 5 days than I would have for just the three), even though I got a free ride to the conference hotel. It isn't because I didn't have documentation, it's because the baggage check for the larger suitcase was for my own purposes. And this is a corporate expense account, not a government one. Now why is it that a liberal pagan like me has a sense of ethics about these things when it's a corporation's money, but the voceriferously devote Catholic and conservative Chris Christie doesn't when it is the taxpayers' money?