Thursday, February 18, 2016

With Christie out of race, will his NJ expenses go up?

From Mark Lagerkvist

As a presidential candidate, Gov. Chris Christie could bank on campaign funds to pay for his meals, travel and entertainment on his many travels.

Out of the race, he is likely to spend more of the $95,000 a year state expense account he receives in addition to his $175,000 annual salary. In the state budget, it is listed as “an allowance of funds not otherwise appropriated and used for official receptions on behalf of the state, the operation of an official residence, for other expenses.”

Last year, the governor used just $13,191 of that allowance and returned $81,809 to the state, according to Treasury records. The big reason: Christie was traveling outside the state on all or part of 261 days in 2015 – and when he was gone, it was usually funded by his campaign committee or other political entities.

In contrast, he spent $92,284 from the allowance during 2010. And during his first five-plus years as governor, Christie charged nearly $300,000 to the state for food and alcohol purchases.

It’s the same expense account Christie tapped to pay for food and drink concessions at MetLife Stadium.

On 82 occasions, Christie used a debit card in 2010 and 2011 to pay a total of $82,594 to Delaware North Sportservice, which operates the concessions at the home field for Giants and Jets. The governor’s office did not provide any receipts, business reasons or names of individuals entertained, but defended the expense.

On another front, taxpayers may find good news in that former candidate Christie is less likely to take out-of-state trips that require State Police protection details to travel with him.

Since Christie took office in 2010, travel expenses for the Executive Protection Unit have totaled $1.57 million. Of that amount, $1.33 million was charged to American Express cards for unspecified expenses.

The story by investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist is now online at NJ Spotlight –

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Mark Lagerkvist is a veteran investigative reporter who previously worked for CNBC, News 12, Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Watchdog, and other news outlets. His work has won more than 60 journalism awards, including honors from National Press Club, Scripps Howard Foundation, and Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). He can be reached at

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