New Jersey Watchdog reveals that the expense account of Gov. Chris Christie (R) has covered $300,000 in costs on food, booze and desserts during his time in office. Of that, Christie's office spent $82,594 at NFL games alone -- more than $1,400 on 58 separate occasions at New York Jets and Giants games. (As you probably know, the Jets and Giants play their games in New Jersey.)
Christie's press secretary refused to detail how the money was spent, telling Watchdog that "the official nature and business purpose of the event remains the case regardless of whether the event is at the State House, [the governor's residence] or a sporting venue." So we don't really know what value Christie -- over whoever incurred the costs in his name -- got for those expenses. The costs were later reimbursed by the Republican State Committee.
As a public service to the Good People of New Jersey, then, we decided to outline ways in which that money might have been spent with a more tangible benefit to the state's residents.
One-tenth of a block of Jersey Shore boardwalk rebuilding. A post-Sandy estimate from FEMA put the cost of rebuilding one block of the boardwalk at $800,000.
A year's household income for an average New Jerseyan. The median household income in Jersey is just shy of $72,000. Why not let a hard-working Jersey family take a year off?
An annual salary for a teacher in Trenton. Or maybe: Pay a teacher's salary in Trenton for only $62,451, and then spend only about $20,000 on food at Giants games?
Two annual salaries for Jersey residents. Per capita income in the state is just over $36,000. So that's two annual incomes spent at MetLife Stadium.
Three years of tuition at Rutgers. The amount Christie spent at football games is almost exactly enough to cover freshman through junior years at Rutgers.
The cost of educating three students in Newark. It could also have paid the $24,281-per-year it costs to educate a kid in Newark public schools three times over.
Thirty-three hours of helicopter time. For what he spent at MetLife, Christie could have spent 33 hours flying to his kid's Little League games in a helicopter.
1,270 hours of anger management therapy. Or he could have found enough people in New Jersey to pay for over a thousand hours of anger management therapy (if anyone in New Jersey needed such therapy, which we are not saying anyone does).
1,877 tickets to a preseason New York Giants game. At $44 per nose-bleed ticket, the money Christie spent entertaining a few people could have instead entertained nearly 2,000, to the extent that Giants games are occasionally entertaining. (Correction: We originally misread this list of costs and though tickets were $30. Hahahaha that was for parking!)
Get 1,000 men drunk at a Giants game. Or if the goal is simply to entertain people to the point of intoxication, Christie could have bought 9,439 $8.75 MetLife beers, enough to get 1,048 240-pound men drunk to Jersey DUI levels over the course of a three-hour game.
How many 240-pound men Christie actually got drunk is left as an eternal mystery.
Update: The governor's office fairly points out that the expense account spending wasn't necessarily for the governor's benefit, which we've noted above. It also offered the full statement from spokesman Kevin Roberts that is excerpted above:
Whenever the Governor hosts an event in his official capacity, the discretionary account is available to pay for those costs associated with official reception and hosting and related incidental expenses. The official nature and business purpose of the event remains the case regardless of whether the event is at the State House, Drumthwacket, or at a sporting venue. Nonetheless in early 2012, the Governor made the decision that costs associated with hosting at the sporting venues were better paid with non-state funds, and those expenses incurred during 2010 and 2011 were reimbursed by the NJGOP. This week, to ensure this remains the case in full, the NJGOP reimbursed the Treasury for an additional $3,367.22 to deal with an accounting anomaly.