News

Christie’s Office Reveals Taxpayers’ Tab For Governor’s Israel Trip

Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel - Apr 3, 2012 (credit: Tim Larsen / Governor's Office)

Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel – Apr 3, 2012 (credit: Tim Larsen / Governor’s Office)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s trip to the Middle East this month cost taxpayers $39,871 for security, according to his office.

The office released costs to The Associated Press for state troopers to be in Israel and Jordan with Christie, his family and 13 delegates he invited.

Other portions of the trip were funded by two privately funded groups, and the governor’s office declined to provide some of those costs. The groups are not required to disclose such figures.

Choose NJ, the economic development entity founded by the Christie administration and funded by corporate donations, paid $36,246 for six government staffers to accompany Christie.

Governor’s office staff — including Christie’s chief of staff and communications director, and his wife’s director of protocol — filed ethics disclosure forms acknowledging a gift of $6,041 each for transportation to and from Israel, accommodations and meals.

For a seventh staffer, a civilian employee who normally travels with the governor, the trip was considered part of his regular government duties, the governor’s office said.

Christie met with top Israeli leaders, visited Israeli-based companies and toured historical and religious sites. The group stayed in Israel four nights before the Christie family went on to Jordan for three nights as the private guests of King Abdullah.

The Washington-based Republican Jewish Coalition shouldered costs for eight members of the Christie clan to fly privately and stay in Jerusalem’s most famous hotel, The King David. The group has shuttled other rising Republican stars to and from Israel in the past, including Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, and George W. Bush, when he was governor of Texas.

Christie is an up-and-coming national Republican figure who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP vice presidential candidate in November or presidential candidate in 2016. Christie said after the trip he was taken aback at how recognizable he was at the Western Wall and other holy sites and tourist spots — and not just by New Jerseyans who were there on vacation.

The Jewish group’s executive director, Matt Brooks, told the AP he was deferring to the governor’s office on releasing costs.

Christie’s office did not release those figures.

In declining to release additional details about who paid for what and how much it cost, Christie’s office cited a 2010 legal decision that allows the executive branch to keep certain records confidential for security reasons, including the size of the governor’s security detail and information on how the chief executive travels.

Christie brushed aside questions about releasing the trip’s costs after he shared highlights with residents at a Jewish community center on Wednesday.

“I haven’t thought about it, I just got back,” he said. “And candidly, I don’t think it’s any big deal. Private groups paid for this trip to help pay for us to go over there. Everybody was transparent to everybody who was paying for it. … I’m not in any rush to be concerned about any of that stuff.”

Christie’s trip continues a gubernatorial tradition started in the 1980s by then-Gov. Tom Kean, who attended the dedication of the eternal flame at Israel’s Holocaust museum to his father, who spoke against Nazi atrocities on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives while a congressman in the 1940s. Republican Christie Whitman and Democrat Jon Corzine also traveled to Israel.

Corzine, a multimillionaire former Wall Street executive, paid for the trip himself.

Please leave a comment below…

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)