Christie Takes State Helicopter to Son's Ball Game

Lawmaker cries foul over personal use of state vehicle.

Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011  |  Updated 3:39 PM EDT
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Christopher Costa

Gov. Chris Christie took a chopper to his son's baseball game.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a dramatic entrance at his son's high school baseball game Tuesday night -- in a state police helicopter.

Christie and his wife Mary Pat landed on an adjacent field just before the game between Delbarton High School and St. Joseph's of Montvale in Montvale.

The governor's oldest son, Andrew, is the starting catcher for Delbarton.

The Christies watched until the fifth inning. Play was stopped briefly while the helicopter took off.

The governor had no public schedule on Tuesday, but had a dinner meeting in Princeton with a delegation of Iowans who tried -- unsuccessfully -- to convince him to run for president.

At least one local lawmaker joined nearly a dozen NBC New York Facebook commenters in blasting Christie's use of the helicopter for personal use.

Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Bergen/Hudson), who sponsored the law authorizing the purchase of two new state police helicopters primarily for homeland security and other emergency purposes, called on Christie to reimburse taxpayers.

"I’m sure every resident of this state would love to have access to these helicopters when they’re stuck in traffic on the Turnpike or Parkway and missing an important appointment," Quigley said in a statement. "Sadly, we don’t all have that luxury. 

"If the governor truly cares about protecting taxpayers’ dollars, then he will reimburse them for this latest abuse on his part," she said.

Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, oversees Christie's transportation and said in a statement that he usually travels by ground transportation "except in those rare instances when the governor's schedule warrants use of air travel."

Fuentes said Christie has flown board state helicopters 35 times since taking office, and said the aircraft fly daily for homeland security missions or training purposes. Therefore, he said, Christie's flight into the baseball game would not accrue "an additional cost to taxpayers, or the state police budget, nor is there any interference with our daily mission."

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says the helicopter is used occasionally, but adds the governor has been judicious in limiting its use.

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