Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NJ WATCHDOG: Court orders Chrisite to reveal air travel records

For immediate release:

Gov. Chris Christie's hide-and-seek game over his state travel expense records continued with mixed results last week in Mercer County Superior Court.

Judge Mary C. Jacobson ordered the governor’s office to provide documentation of air travel expenses, including costs and itineraries. She awarded legal fees to a New Jersey Watchdog reporter and instructed the state to turn over the records within 10 days.

But Jacobson also ruled the names of hotels where Christie stayed at taxpayers’ expense should be kept confidential for security reasons. In evidence submitted to the court under seal, the administration argued that revealing the governor's lodging locations in 2012 and 2013 could somehow put him in future danger.

Then the judge threw the rest of the reporter’s public records lawsuit out of court on narrow technical grounds.

The reporter sought records of state “Travel Cards” used to pay for expenses. However, since those words were capitalized in the request – “Travel Cards” not “travel cards” – Jacobson ruled against release of documents from an American Express credit card account that paid for the governor’s travel.

The judge also decided the request for “travel vouchers” only included records of expenses for which employees were reimbursed, but did not encompass “payment vouchers” for travel expenses paid directly by the state.

“This is just about semantics,” complained the reporter’s attorney, Donald M. Doherty Jr. “The governor’s office knew exactly what my client wanted.”

The full story is now online at http://watchdog.org/179348/christie-travel-records-3/.

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