11.10.2010 0

NYT Targets Gov. Christie for Expense Charges in Hit Piece that Fails to Find Scandal

By Kevin Mooney — While he previously served as a U.S. attorney, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey would sometimes get waivers for hotel stays when the government rate was not available. This greatly upsets the New York Times, which makes effort  to uncover wrongdoing where none exists. Christie is identified here as a “rising star in the Republican Party” on the basis of his budget cutting and a possible presidential contender. Naturally, he comes in for greater media scrutiny.

But the outrage here over expenses charges  is feigned and not real. Since when is the NYT concerned about taxpayers?

This criticism is  recycled from the state’s 2009 gubernatorial race that ended with Christie unseating Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. But it has made its way into the news again on the basis of a report that the U.S. Justice Department released on Monday. Christie served as the U.S. attorney from 2002 until 2008.

“The report cited stays in the $449-per-night Nine Zero Hotel in Boston and the $475-per-night Four Seasons Hotel in Washington,” the NYT informs readers. “Both cost more than double the government rate for those cities. In all, Mr. Christie exceeded the lodging rate on 14 of 23 trips without adequate justification, billing taxpayers $2,176 in excess of the maximum normal rates.”

This is all about fishing for a scandal where one doesn’t exist. Gov. Christie is wise to avoid any engagement here with NYT reports that would just play into the agenda of a biased liberal news media. The tone angle of the report is beyond ridiculous. While serving as U.S. attorney, Christie would seek the government rate for any details and then ask for a waiver when one was not available.

“Mr. Christie declined to speak with the inspector general’s investigators,” the report says. “But his secretary at the federal prosecutors’ office told them that he would choose his hotel if he was familiar with the city. If he was not, she would seek a recommendation for a ‘decent’ hotel at or near the site of a scheduled meeting. While she “routinely called hotels to seek the government rate,” when the cost exceeded that rate he would obtain a waiver, according to the report.”

“In several cases, the waiver documentation included a memorandum signed by Mr. Christie saying that a room within the government rate was unavailable,” the NYT continues. “The secretary said the memorandums meant not that a cheaper hotel room could not be found, but that no such rooms fit the criteria of a “decent” hotel near a meeting site.”

Should Christie have stayed in a hostel or a doom room instead?

The total of extra billing was $2,176.00, which is not out proportion with what other prosecutors have charged.

While it’s refreshing to see the NYT take an interest in the spending habits of public officials, the newspapers does not have long history here as advocate for taxpayer interests. Quite the opposite in fact. Over the weekend, Christie did not explicitly rule out a possible presidential run when asked about his ambitions. That’s what this is about. The outrage over expenses is feigned and not real.

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