New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent $300,000 of a government state allowance over five years in office to buy food, alcoholic drinks and desserts, according to a new analysis of state records.
In addition to his $175,000 salary, Christie receives $95,000 a year for purposes vaguely defined in the state budget for official purposes like state receptions, operating an official residence, or other expenses.
And numbers published by local website New Jersey Watchdog show Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, took full advantage of the stipend over his five years as governor. He spent $76,373 during 53 shopping runs at Wegmans Food Markets, and $11,971 in purchases at ShopRite supermarkets during 51 visits, in addition to another $6,536 in seven visits to ShopRite’s liquor stores. The site is published by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.
All the food purchases were for official purposes, an aide in Christie’s office said, including receptions and general upkeep at the governor’s mansion.
During the 2010 and 2011 NFL football seasons, Christie also spent a total of $82,594 at the MetLife Stadium, where the New York’s Giants and Jets play their home games. The New Jersey Republican State Committee later reimbursed the money Christie spent at MetLife to the state.
Gov. Christie’s office said the money was used for official political functions to host dignitaries and legislators.
“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,” said Christie’s press secretary Kevin Roberts in a statement.
“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.”
Christie every year returns leftover funds from the $95,000 allowance to the state. The amount Christie returned annually to the state increased from $2,716 in 2010 to $30,377 last year.