Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NJ WATCHDOG: Christie staff caught misleading NJ court in travel records dispute

For Immediate Release:

What happens when Gov. Chris Christie’s staff is caught lying to a New Jersey court about the existence of public records?

That legal bombshell may explode in Mercer County Superior Court this week in the governor’s battle with a New Jersey Watchdog reporter over travel expense accounts.

Documents surfaced that directly contradict the claims of Christie’s lawyers that the governor and his staff do not use state credit cards for travel and don’t have any records.

“The governor’s office does not use Travel Cards and thus does not have Travel Card statements,” stated Christie associate counsel Javier Diaz in a certification filed with the court. Similar to an affidavit, a certification carries penalties for willful false statements.

Yet an American Express card issued to the state is how the governor’s office paid for $8,146 worth of airfare for Christie’s entourage in January 2013 to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. The four passengers were Christie, his wife Mary Pat, chief of staff Kevin O’Dowd and planning director Daniel Robles.

The statements for the corporate AMEX card, received from another source, were addressed to the "NJ Governor's Office" at the Statehouse in care of Robles. The card was used again to charge $1,687 of additional expenses in February 2013.

“The state should not be playing semantics with whatever it calls the small piece of plastic that is whipped out to pay for the governor’s $8,000 worth of first-class airfare, among other things,” argued the reporter’s attorney, Donald M. Doherty Jr., in a brief to Judge Mary C. Jacobson.

Other hidden records from the Super Bowl trip include a $7,583 invoice for three hotel rooms in the names of Christie, O’Dowd and Robles. Christie's room and hotel expenses alone cost taxpayers $3,371. The name of the hotel and itemized bills were redacted from the documents.

The full story is now online at http://watchdog.org/177595/christie-travel-lawsuit-3/.

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