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Chris Christie: No. 1 U.S. Attorney In Wasting Gov't Travel Money

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Newscom

The fiscally conservative Republican governor was one of a "relatively small number of U.S. Attorneys" who did not comply with federal travel regulations or provide appropriate justification for his lodging costs which exceeded the government rate. He was just one of five U.S. Attorneys identified "who exhibited a noteworthy pattern of exceeding the government rate and whose travel documentation provided insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification for the higher lodging rates."

One footnote mentions that Christie set up and had the government pay for a prearranged car service for a four-mile trip back and forth from the Boston airport at a price of $236 round trip. "In another example of excessive transportation costs, his car service from a London airport to his hotel in central London cost $562 round trip," the report added.

Christie declined a request for an interview with the Inspector General's office. Christie's press secretary Michael Drewniak told the Associated Press that "the governor thoroughly addressed this issue during the campaign, and I would refer you to his remarks then."

FireDogLake first connected the dots between the OIG report and TPMDC's October 2009 story. Some of the details that Christie and U.S. Attorney C shared include stays at the Nine Zero Hotel in Boston and the Four Seasons on Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C.

The period in question is 2007 through 2009, a tumultuous time in the Justice Department with high turnover in no small part due to the U.S. Attorneys scandal. As a result, 208 individuals served as U.S. Attorneys from 93 districts during the time of review.

Besides Christie, the other former U.S. Attorneys mentioned in the report were not immediately identifiable. The report excluded trips by U.S. Attorneys acting in other positions for DOJ entities, and therefore likely does not include Mary Beth Buchanan, who spent more than $450,000 on at least 347 trips over her eight year term at U.S. Attorney.

The report also identifies a U.S. Attorney who was testifying before the Senate Judicary Committee and made a "reservation to the University Club, which cost $189.50 per night, or $35 over the government rate."

Obama administration officials have since implemented stricter limitations on U.S. Attorney travel. U.S. Attorneys Director H. Marshall Jarrett wrote in a memo outlining the restrictions (available here) that the revamped procedures would ensure compliance with travel policies; strengthen internal controls and oversight of U.S. Attorneys' travel in a user-friendly process; and maintain the integrity and reputation the U.S. Attorney position.

The Inspector General found those measures were a step in the right direction but suggested further protocols to stop inappropriate travel practices.

A Review of U.S. Attorney Travel that Exceeded the Government Lodging Rate