New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has elevated his national political profile as a conservative cost-cutter since taking the state's highest office, used taxpayer money to stay at luxury hotels while serving as a federal prosecutor, according to a new Justice Department report.
Christie exceeded the federal government's set lodging rates by as much as $242 per night on 15 occasions between 2007 and 2009, states the report by Justice's inspector general.
He spent $2,176 more than his budgeted rate over the course of 23 trips – of which only eight stays were booked in compliance with the federally allotted travel rates.
According to the report, Christie, who was a U.S. attorney – referred to as "Attorney C," "provided insufficient, inaccurate or no justification" for 14 of the 15 trips in question.
In one instance, Christie explained a $475-per-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington by saying an early-morning speech was scheduled at the hotel. The report concluded, however, that if a room at the government rate of $233 was available within a reasonable distance, "we do not believe this was a suitable justification."
Christie's expenditures came up during last fall's gubernatorial campaign. At the time, Christie defended his actions, saying he had no other option.
“There are only a few rooms at each hotel that are reserved for government rate,” Christie told the Asbury Park Press last year. “If you got them, you got them. If you didn’t, you didn’t. I wouldn’t have slept in the park.”