TRAVELING MAN: Gov. Chris Christie won’t release information on who is paying for his travels. Now it’s in court.
By Mark Lagerkvist | New Jersey Watchdog
Who really pays for Gov. Chris Christie’s frequent trips away from New Jersey?
A New Jersey Watchdog reporter is suing the governor’s office in Mercer County Superior Court for records of third-parties who pay for the out-of-state trips taken by Christie and his senior staff.
“There is the public interest in assessing just who is paying for our government officials to visit with them,” argued the reporter’s attorney, Donald M. Doherty Jr., in a brief filed Thursday. “If a person is judged by the company he keeps, politicians are similarly judged by who they travel to see.”
State travel regulations require state agencies to collect and maintain certain documents regarding travel paid by the third-parties. Yet the governor’s office denied the reporter’s request for the files under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.
“Please be advised that the nature of your request is unclear, and your request is therefore invalid under OPRA,” responded Javier Diaz, a legal specialist in the governor’s office.
“I have requested specific documents with reasonable clarity,” countered the reporter in a Feb. 28 email to Diaz.
“What is not clear is why you have asserted that the request is somehow ‘unclear’ and ‘therefore invalid.’ If you believe there is any technicality that causes (the request) to be unclear, please identify it and bring it to my attention immediately,” the reporter wrote.
The governor’s office never replied, and now will be required to answer in court.
Christie and his entourage have traveled extensively during the past few of years. During the 2012 election, the New Jersey governor was on the national campaign trail to stump and help raise funds for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and various other candidates for office.
As chair of the Republican Governors Association this year and a prospective presidential candidate for 2016, Christie’s frequent journeys have continued. Last month, he flew to Las Vegas to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition and meet with billionaire political donor Sheldon Adelson.
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DISCLOSURE: Investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist is the plaintiff in Lagerkvist v. Office of Governor, Mercer County Superior Court, MER-L-821-14