TRENTON – Democrats are criticizing Gov. Chris Christie for using a State Police helicopter to travel to his son’s baseball game and to later meet with political donors.
“Governor Christie’s use of the State Police helicopter for personal and political fundraising purposes is a major breach of ethics, and possibly a violation of state and federal laws governing the use of taxpayer property and services,” said Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), who called for the Attorney General to conduct an independent investigation into the governor’s helicopter use.
“With New Jersey residents confronting high unemployment and skyrocketing property taxes, the last thing that we need is yet another politician violating the public trust and using taxpayer resources for private gain,” Buono said. “As U.S. Attorney, Chris Christie would have investigated any local official who used a taxpayer-funded helicopter to attend a political fundraising meeting. The same standard should apply to the governor.”
Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, defended the governor’s use of the helicopter.
“Governor Christie is on duty every hour of every day. His transportation, safety and security are my responsibility, and he therefore travels with the State Police Executive Protection Unit, whether on state or personal business,” Fuentes said. “As part of our long-standing security protocol, the EPU provides secure, protected travel by vehicle in the overwhelming majority of the Governor’s business and personal travel, except in those rare instances when the Governor’s schedule warrants use of air travel.”
According to Fuentes, Christie has been aboard State Police helicopters 35 times since taking office, including trips to survey flood and storm damage.
“It is important to understand that State Police helicopters fly daily homeland security missions, and use flight time for training purposes, more so lately as we acclimate our pilots to the new aircraft. These are flight hours that would be logged in any event,” Fuentes said. “Therefore, there is no additional cost to taxpayers or the State Police budget, nor is there any interference with our daily mission by adding the state’s chief executive to any of these trips. Any flights transporting the Governor would be subordinated to priority needs for our aircraft including rescue and emergent law enforcement missions.”
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!