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November 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Ex-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie Routinely Exceeded Hotel Costs at Taxpayer Expense, IG Report Finds

Gov. Chris Christie/state photo By Allan Lengel

As a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey who crusaded against corruption, Chris Christie — now the New Jersey governor —  routinely stayed in expensive hotels at taxpayer expense, far exceeding the government allowance, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report released Monday.

The report, which looked at the travel of all 208 U.S. Attorneys from 2007 to 2008, found that Christie and four others routinely exceeded the government rate for lodging without justification or proper documentation. But it noted that Christie, who was U.S. Attorney from 2002 to 2008, was the biggest violator of the five.

The Inspector General  did not name the U.S. Attorneys, but the website Main Justice identified “U.S. Attorney C” in the report as Christie.

“After reviewing the travel documents and interviewing the U.S. Attorney’s secretary, we found insufficient justification for exceeding the government rate with respect to 14 of the 15 trips,” the report said of Christie.

“These 14 vouchers exceeded the government rate by $19 to $242 per night, for a total of $2,176 (excluding taxes for domestic travel). U.S. Attorney C’s lodging costs exceeded the government rate by more than $100 per night on 9 of the 14 vouchers.”

The report said Christie — considered a rising star in the Republican party —  stayed at the  Nine Zero Hotel in Boston for $449 per night and the $475-per-night Four Seasons Hotel in Washington at a cost of more than double the government rate for those cities.

On Christie, the report said: “The U.S. Attorney’s secretary told us that she routinely called hotels to seek the government rate. However, she also said that the U.S. Attorney selected his hotel if he was familiar with the city and that she would seek a recommendation for a “decent” hotel if he was not.

“The secretary told us that if the recommended hotel did not offer the government rate, she would consider other hotels but also take into account the time of the meeting and the distance from the hotel to the meeting site. The secretary stated that the U.S. Attorney normally stayed at the hotel closest to or at the location of his meetings.”

“The justification for his stay at the Four Seasons Hotel (at a rate of $475 per night) was an early morning speech at the hotel. We do not believe this was a suitable justification for exceeding the government rate, particularly by such a large amount, if lodging at the government rate was available at a hotel within a reasonable distance from that hotel.”

Gov. Chrisite’s press secretary Mike Drewniak did not immediately return a call Tuesday morning to for comment.  In a New York Time’s story, he declined comment and a spokesman referred to previous comments he made during his campaign.

”I had to go someplace for part of my job. We tried to get the government rate. We couldn’t. So my only alternative would have been to not go,”  Christie said during the campaign in October 2009, according to the Associated Press.

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