December 8, 2015
The names and locations of 34 hotels and 32 restaurants where the Christie entourage lodged and dined were listed by Chris Christie for President Inc. in its quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission. Required by law, the 1,030-page document details $2.8 million the campaign spent on various expenses from July through September.
Those disclosures are in direct conflict with the argument Christie used to convince a judge not to release state records of travel expenses racked up by the governor’s Executive Protection Unit and paid by New Jersey taxpayers, including $1.3 million in American Express charges.
Four months ago, Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson ruled that past records of the EPU’s meals, lodging and transportation could create a potential security risk for the governor in the future. The troopers assigned to protect Christie often take the same flights and stay at the same hotels as the man they guard.
In court, Jacobson said she based her decision on a confidential sworn statement submitted under court seal by State Police Capt. Kevin Cowan, head of EPU.
“He unequivocally swears in that certification that release of the information would increase the risk of harm to the governor,” said the judge.
Yet those are the same types of details provided in the Christie campaign’s report to the FEC, publicly available online at the commission’s web site. The record includes the name of the business, address, type of expense and amount paid– though it does not identify the individuals who are traveling.
The result is a paradox: The hotels, restaurants and airlines patronized by Christie and his campaign staff using private money are a matter of public record. Yet details of the public cost caused by Christie’s White House run are kept secret by court order.
The complete story by investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist is online at NJ Spotlight at http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/15/12/08/christie-reveals-travel-secrets-that-he-convinced-court-to-keep-confidential/.