NJ Gov. Chris Christie Reimburses State $2,251 For Use Of Helicopter To Son’s Ball Games


chris-christieAfter 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 says 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 says 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.

Christie says 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,” 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.”

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.

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, says the 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 has done so 35 times since taking office.

{CBS Local/Matzav.com Newscenter}