UPDATE: Ledger now featuring this story along with a fresh quote from Christie: “We’ve only used it for business purposes. When I have to use it for political purposes, we make sure we pay it back.”
(Huh? Why does he ever have to use state resources to further his own political position? And why is he allowed to borrow against state resources for political purposes?)
Bloomberg/Business Week put some numbers to Chris Christie’s routine commandeering of the $12.5 million state police helicopter this morning. Ordinarily, we might trust a governor to make his own decisions about how to motor around. But this is New Jersey. We’ve had a governor who nearly killed himself
speeding without a seat belt. Now we have one who squires around in a chopper, frequently using that 55-foot Homeland Security resource – designed for emergencies and to transport critically injured people – for political or family events. And that’s something the public should nose into, particularly when the governor in question styles himself fiscally responsible, and tells other public workers to tighten their belts and seems to think his constituents laze around waiting for government cheese (which offends us
and Tom Moran
Over at Bloomberg, they requested documents, and pulled out the calculators. Whole Christie Airborne for WrestleMania as Helicopter Flights Triple, is worth reading. But I’ll summarize:
Christie choppers to announce WrestleMania (Feb. 16):
Cost: about $1,500
Time saved: about 36 minutes
Other Christie copter trips same week: to NYC for speech to pro-Israel group, Super Bowl rally for NY Giants, Caldwell “Town Hall” where he urged towns to cut costs.
“Christie, 49, a first-term Republican who has slashed lawmakers’ spending requests and criticized officials who abuse taxpayer-funded perks, has more than tripled his use of state helicopters since June, when Democrats chided him for using the aircraft to get to political and personal events.” –Bloomberg
Christie use of state chopper over 9 months:
64 trips total (reported) = about 1 every 4 days
5 stops to Mendham home or vacation house (each, 50 mi from State House)
Crew has to fly anyway. But chopper operating cost = $2,500/hr
Half the flights: bill signings, announcements, swearing-in events, speeches, “Jersey Comeback” events. Trips for Hurricane Irene = 3. NYC trips for interviews, receptions, meetings = 9. Trips to comfort family of soldier killed in Afghanistan = 2 (same soldier, arrival of body, then funeral)
Total cost of Christie state helicopter use since taking office: $217,000.
Christie actions taken during this time:
Asked public workers to cede negotiated benefits to trim government
cut out $1B added by Dems in $29.7B budget for schools, police & tax credits for working poor
What Christie did that makes people pay attention to the chopper
Flew it to his kid’s high school ballgame (riding 300 yards in a SUV (taxpayers) instead of the deluxe golf cart made available (free), then Princeton for Iowa GOP bigwigs.
Below the fold Fun facts! GOP ponies up (not much, only after public outcry).
Just another dad at a school baseball game…