Doesn't Apologize; Dems To Launch Investigation Into 'Coptergate'

DENVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — After a firestorm of criticism, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie changed his mind Thursday and decided that he and the Republican Party would reimburse the state for his personal use of a state police helicopter, which includes two trips to watch his oldest son’s baseball games.

Christie said he was initially told by state police that he didn’t have to reimburse the state for personal helicopter rides.
Christie answered questions about his use of a state police helicopter Thursday afternoon at a bill signing in Denville. He unapologetically said he was balancing his role as a father and job as a governor when he used the helicopter to go to two of his son’s baseball games.

“Let’s just end it. I’ll write the check and end it,” Christie told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “I decided it was important for my son to be there and it was important as a father. So, I wanted to be there so I made the decision to take the trip.”

Christie Chided Democratic Critics Thursday, Calling Them “A Joke.”  WCBS 880’s Levon Putney Reports.

Christie said he decided to reimburse the state about $2,151 only because the issue had become a distraction from the real problems facing New Jersey. The state Republican Party is paying about $1,200 to cover the cost of Christie’s trip Tuesday when used the helicopter to fly 75 miles from a game in Montvale to Princeton to take meeting with a group of top GOP campaign contributors from Iowa.

“As the chief of State Police said yesterday, the air travel didn’t cost taxpayers any additional dollars and fell under the protection unit’s normal security responsibilities,” Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Maria Comella said. “But the governor understands the sensitivity about this kind of thing and believes he owes it to the public to ensure that this is not a distraction.”

Christie Says He Wants The Public To Understand The Balancing Act His Life Has Become.  1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney Reports.

Christie also released his travel log on state choppers — 33 of them — and said he’ll pay for another family flight, too.

“You know what my son said to me afterwards? He said thanks for coming,” Christie said to applause.

The governor landed on the football field and was driven to the baseball field — a trek uphill.

“It’s if the helicopter has to leave, to Medivac someone, or has a law enforcement mission or Homeland Security mission, they need some way to get me home. That’s why the cars are there,” the governor said.

RELATED: List Of Uses Of State Helicopter (PDF)

Earlier, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, chairwoman of the Assembly Homeland Security Committee, told reporters she had concerns over the personal use of a chopper bought to help protect ports and airports and transport people during emergencies and disasters.

“My first reaction was, ‘did anyone that needed critical care not get it,”’ she said.

The reaction from the governor constituents was mixed.

“Even though they say it’s not coming out of the taxpayer money, they have ways to hide that under the table,” one man told CBS 2’s Sloan.

“I just feel sorry for the man as an individual come to the game and people putting him down for using state transportation,” added Jan Czerepark of Elmwood Park.

On Wednesday, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the helicopter use was appropriate and the governor “does not reimburse for security and travel.”

Christie and his wife arrived by chopper just before Tuesday’s game between Delbarton High School and St. Joseph’s in Montvale.

The Christies left in the 5th inning and headed to the governor’s mansion in Princeton. That’s where a delegation of Iowans gathered but couldn’t convince Christie to run for president.

The police superintendent said flight hours were logged daily for for security and training missions, so there was no additional cost to taxpayers.

“I don’t think any of it was government-related or policy-related,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-Englewood). “This is to me an example of do as a I say, not as I do.”

Quijano, who was named head of the committee earlier this year, said an upcoming hearing will focus on what guidelines, if any, are in place for transporting dignitaries and their families. The hearing will likely be held within two weeks, though no date has been set.

A special commission recommended New Jersey governors use helicopters as a matter of safety after the 2007 car crash involving then Gov. Jon Corzine.

Christie said his son has another game, in Sparta, on Friday and he’ll be using a car to get there.

Do you think Christie’s helicopter ride was inappropriate? Sound off below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (46)
  1. AC says:

    seriously? improper use of government resources. He took a goverment HELICOPTER at over $2000 cost to his kid’s BALL GAME. wake up.
    Hypocrite. His children go to private school bankrolled by a trust set up by a family member who made a big amount on Wall Street. So, in addition to his ridiculous spending, he cuts the school funding to children who DON”T have rich relatives to pay for their private school–or parents who can foot the bill as EVERYTHING become EXTRA cost–for everything in addition to paying TAXES to send their children to school. HYPOCRITE HYPOCRITE HYPOCRITE

    And then tell the TAXPAYING public that it is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

    P.S> why-unlike all the other callers on that show- did the one person he flew off the hand at have to be identify herself by name and address? what type of retribution is SHE going to suffer ?

  2. NewJerseyDeservesBetter says:

    I decided it was important for my son to be there and it was important as a father. So, I wanted to be there so I made the decision to take the trip.” After the token appearance, he went to the meeting with Republican Presidential supporters, also–initially–at taxpayer expense. Both he and the boy should submit to DNA testing to prove that the relationship exists. First, Palin lugged Trig around like a loaf of bread, during the Presidential campaign, and now Christie wants us to think of the children.

  3. Robert J Senn says:

    if you are gonna cut the use of criste use of helo lets stop the use of all gov cars from top to bottom state to town gas tank to gas tank

  4. Robert J Senn says:

    if the gov repay for the use of the helo are the rest of the state county and town officals that have gov cars trucks and so on gonna pay for there private use like going to the mall with family using gov gas in personal cars all local fire chiefs it goes on and on

  5. Wot Woo says:

    lol, only because he got CAUGHT. This corrupt, pompous windbag is no better than a common criminal.

  6. RichieT says:

    The thing that pis#**#*s me off, is he felt he had the right to do it. If it hadn’t been released by the press, he never would have paid it back.

    1. Sam says:

      I’m sorry guys. The Governor is the Chief Executive of the State. It is reasonable that he travel in State helicopters. Yes, it is paid for by taxpayer dollars, but secured travel is a necessity for Chief Executives of large organisations. The cost of the travel is peanuts if he’s doing a good job for you. If he’s not, then vote him out or pass a no-confidence motion. In any case, stop distracting the man with trivial issues.

      1. MR GOEBBELS says:


      2. AC says:

        seriously? improper use of government resources. He took a goverment HELICOPTER at over $2000 cost to his kid’s BALL GAME. wake up.
        Hypocrite. His children go to private school bankrolled by a trust set up by a family member who made a big amount on Wall Street. So, in addition to his ridiculous spending, he cuts the school funding to children who DON”T have rich relatives to pay for their private school–or parents who can foot the bill as EVERYTHING become EXTRA cost–for everything in addition to paying TAXES to send their children to school. HYPOCRITE HYPOCRITE HYPOCRITE

  7. Gloria Guerriera says:

    Let’s see back in 2007, then governor Jon Corzine was involved in an auto accident on th GSP. Later it came ou that the trooper driving him was doing 90 MPH and Corzine was not wearing a seat belt. Corzine broke a leg, collarbone and a dozen ribs. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Camden. I wonder was he made to pay for his ride?

    1. MR says:

      If you were in that collision and were uninsured, would you have wanted the EMTs to leave you on the side of the road?

      1. MR GOEBBELS says:


  8. nathan says:

    Was that “President Christie”? BAHAHA…

  9. inCOPetence says:

    ..and what about all of the other politicians, government employees/reps who do what they do on a daily basis yet aren’t caught!? IF and when they finally are, how much do we really learn about their pasts?
    Here’s an example of our experience in Pleasant Hill, California. (victims of apparent special treatment provided the known, troubled son of our former mayor/retired Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy. Visit for the astonishing details

  10. p8nt says:

    I wonder how many of the people that just posted are huge fan of Housewives of “insert city,” or Jersey Shore.

  11. Choozer says:

    I am ignoring the fact that it didn’t cost taxpayers any additional funds. I am ignoring the fact that education spending in NJ is still bountiful. I am ignoring many facts that I can see and understand because I choose to disregard them. I disregard them because they are not compatible with my self-interests.

  12. pinhead says:

    I want to see his birth certificate.

  13. 2Fat2Fly says:

    Can He Pay For It With Bacon Cheeseburgers?

  14. jagdish says:

    Hillarious. Most of the snarky comments are from NJ teachers who should be working and not posting here. They are a scorned bunch.

    1. Michael H. says:

      …and your proof of this is where?

  15. al says:

    If its ok for Pres. Obama to come to NY to see a broadway show (at a cost of several hundred thousand taxpayer dollars) …. Gov. Christie is entiled, as well.

    1. Michael H. says:

      You’re right. Obama should just hole up in the White House until 2012/2016 unless he’s out on official business.

      1. al says:

        Governors need to travel , as well. There is no difference , except to political hypocrites.

  16. Peter says:

    I would like to see the canceled check for that !!!!!

  17. railien says:

    HIs excesses wo8ld’ve come out sooner or later. Remember, he wanted to use the ARC tunnel funds to pave roads and improve rail access. It’s a matter of time before something else gets exposed.

    1. railien says:

      correction – not improve rail access.

  18. mary says:

    hypocrite, yes I now want to call him Mr. Hypocrite, do as I say not as I do It is up to him to step up to the plate and share in the scarifice as he shouts we NJ citizens do. When given the privledge to serve us he knew he would have to make his own personal scarfices and he not only preaches that we all have to he shouts it and then he does something like this so he can wacth his son play base ball and then go sit with a bunch of people from Iowa to discuss if he should run for president. It is not what I want my tax dollars paying for….NONE of this was for us New Jersians, this was all for him and his family and I resent paying for it Break out your wallet Mr. Hypocrite

  19. a says:

    One of many things to remember for the next election when he is looking for your vote.

    1. AC says:

      he doesn’t want to be reelected. don’t you see? He wanted to get into office–so he lied through his teeth–he wants to do as much damage as he can to all the people he has a grudge against, throw his weight around and show that he can. Then when he’s done all the damage he can and the taxpayers of the state are no better–if not worse–off, he will leave.

  20. BK says:


  21. Tom says:

    Just the latest example that shows how much of a hypocrite fat boy Christie is.

  22. Michael H. says:

    Completely different issue. Christie isn’t flying coast to coast and Christie isn’t second in line for the presidency. Pelosi also was not the one who requested the private jet. The rules of the House dictated that the Speaker have a certain level of security, and that included state sponsored flights to and from her home district.

  23. spencer donaldson says:

    Gov. Christie has made NJ a better place for himself, his family and his inner circle. He has certainly made it a worse place to live for the rest of New Jerseyeans. He promised alot prior to election, his promise to lower the highest real estate taxes in the country if not the world was broken, he raised taxes while real estate values declined. He promised his wealthy inner circle a tax cut and delivered it immediately. New Jersey has the highest R.E. taxes, high unemployment, corrupt and failed Xanadu in the Meadowlands, a billion dollar loss to the taxpayers. He has argued and made extremely foolish decisions with the feds, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost federal grants for education and new infrastructure. He is simply another corrupt, selfish, obnoxious, righteous power player bent on doing things in his own stupid way at the expense of NJ residents. NJ needs an intelligent Governor and leadership. Christie has failed NJ and demonstrated that he is clearly not a capable leader who can turn the state around. He just does not possess the intelligence needed and should be removed from office, before its too late.

  24. Charles Brett says:

    Christie is a hypocrite. He is cutting education budget for students throughout the state. He is cutting the state contribution to state and county colleges. Yet he can squander tax payer dollars by having a state police helicopter take him to a baseball game.

    1. phatpig says:

      Charles is spot on with his comments. You don’t have to be partisan to see the hypocrisy, only sheepish blind not to.

      1. stampman says:

        Do as I say NOT as I DO! silly children of NJ
        The bully governor still does not see the hypocrisy of his actions.

  25. Johnny says:

    I have no problem with it. As a pilot, one can never get enough training, especially making off airport (helicopter) landings. All long as Christie knows that a real emergency during his use of the copter takes presedence over his use, I for one don’t see a problem with it.

    This, like the parking placard issue in NYC or the Mayor using NYPD helicopters is just a media frenzy about nothing. Politics and special intrest groups looking to embarrass. Smart individuals see right thru it.

    1. stampman says:

      Sorry Johnny, it’s not the flight or use of the helicopter, it the hypocrisy that is the frenzy. Christie attacks everyone in the government he does not like as abusing their power, wasting money etc. talks about austerity and then says its OK for him.
      HYPOCRISY is the story, not the ride. Past gov’s of NJ were chastised for this as well.
      Someone should shout at that buffon of governor and place it on youtube like he does to others.

  26. mark says:

    What sheeple …

    Can’t you see what CBS is doing? “Weinergate” is taking up too much of the airwaves so the press has to gun for the Republicans. Dan Rather must be writing copy for them now.

    And people are just ready and waiting to make a brouhaha over nothing. Let’s get Corzine’s flight records out and see what trips he made in those helicopters.

    Hypocrites, all of you.

    1. Norman says:

      Corzine actually reimbursed the state for his trips and often hired his own helicopter for private trips (which the state police did not like). But you could have found that out yourself in two minutes on the web if you really wanted to know.

      This is not a story because Christie is a Republican, it’s a story because he’s made a national name for himself by cutting budgets left and right, but he’s not walking the walk himself. But he doesn’t really care much because he’s not playing to the local audience, his focus is making a national name for himself.

  27. Russ says:

    I wonder how many teacher salaries could have been paid by his ride.

    1. Ranbo says:

      about a day and a half at what New Jersey teachers get paid….get a life

  28. Sad says:

    Another arrogant politician flaunting the fact that he has the power to do whatever he wants.

  29. uneducated says:

    amazing…no money for education but we have money for government officials to go joyriding in helicopters…unreal

    1. educated says:

      Yeah…. Joyriding…. going to see your kid play in a sporting event…
      How many parents that work in any kind of field leave work in order to make their kids games/practices… He prob worked as long as he could to just make it to his kids game… even close to on-time….
      Going fwd, what Christie should do is leave work early… Grab one of the state owned SUV’s and motor as fast as the State Tropper can drive to the game…. that should be safe!

      Uneducated…. thats simply what you are!!!!!!!!

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