Monday, May 11, 2015

Governor Christie's Expenses: The Truth, The Facts

A new report from NJ Watchdog is getting attention today, allowing a completely inaccurate and incomplete portrayal of the Governor Chris Christie's discretionary account to surface. As already reported last week after receiving the same exact documents, the Associated Press accurately lays out the facts about the use of this expense account.

The notion that Governor Christie uses this account for his personal expenses is false. The account has been given to every NJ governor for the purposes of upkeep of the official residence and the costs of official reception - be in lawmakers, dignitaries, or otherwise - and the incidental costs related to OFFICIAL duties.

  • The expense account, which has been provided to every governor in recent memory, is a discretionary fund that is used for business purposes, including costs associated with the upkeep of and official events hosted at Drumthwacket, the official residence, and other costs of official reception by the Governor.
  • Unused fund balances have traditionally been returned to the State treasury and not kept as income, and that has been the case for every year under Governor Christie.

The house seats at the Meadowlands, the Prudential Center, and the IZOD Center have long been recognized and disclosed as being made available to the Governor in the service of his duties. 
  • Governor’s Office Spokesman, 6/7/2010: “The boxes provide entertainment, but serve legitimate business, government and political functions as well.  Dignitaries, promoters and vendors, political figures — including political opponents — and others would be expected to use the boxes. As the chief executive of the state, the governor, and he alone, has the primary responsibility for hosting other dignitaries — from in and out of state — and showcasing our state and promoting business for New Jersey and for the venues themselves.  The beneficiaries of those house seats — for example legislators — do not have that responsibility.”

These expenditures from the discretionary account were associated with hosting expenses such as food and beverage only, not the cost of attendance at Meadowlands, Prudential Center, and IZOD events.

“Whenever the Governor hosts an event in his official capacity, the discretionary account is available to pay for those costs associated with official reception and hosting and related incidental expenses.  The official nature and business purpose of the event remains the case regardless of whether the event is at the State House, Drumthwacket, or at a sporting venue.  Nonetheless in early 2012, the Governor made the decision that costs associated with hosting at the sporting venues were better paid with non-state funds, and those expenses incurred during 2010 and 2011 were reimbursed by the NJGOP.  This week, to ensure this remains the case in full, the NJGOP reimbursed the Treasury for an additional $3,367.22 to deal with an accounting anomaly.” – Kevin Roberts, Press Secretary

Governor Christie’s Statement in New Hampshire Friday:

QUESTION: Governor your office changed its policy where expenses associated with boxes, costs were taken over by GOP, previously they were taken over by the discretionary fund, can you tell us why that change in policy occurred?

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Yeah I just felt like it was the right thing to do. Now, as you know we have people in the box at the football game which is where it’s used predominantly, we don’t use those two boxes at the Rock or at the old Izod when it was open, all that much. And we have people from both parties  from different interest groups across the state who come to the football games to sit and have private time with me in a conversation. And so I think it’s completely justifiable to use the discretionary funds, but quite frankly in today’s world where everything is kind of twisted and turned to look like it’s something wrong when it isn’t, I just said in 2012 to my folks – listen, let’s just have  the state party pay for this. So to the extent there’s anybody there who is political, people can’t make the argument that we’re using taxpayer money for anything that even looks like politics. So that’s why the state party reimbursed for all the costs that happened in 2010 – 2011 and it’s been our policy every since 2012 to have the state party pay for any entertaining we do in the box, even if it’s non-political entertaining. I just think it was the right thing to do and that’s why we decided to do it.

QUESTION: You personally made that decision?

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Yes I did, I personally made the decision to do that.

No comments: