NJ governor spent $300k on groceries, drinks

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Reuters)
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and a potential candidate in the 2016 presidential race, has spent around $300,000 of taxpayer money during the last five years on food, drinks and desserts, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Watchdog.org got a glimpse of a half-decade worth of receipts from Christie’s office and revealed that the Garden State Republican didn't shy away from using an annual allowance of $95,000 to cover extra costs while in office.

Although Christie receives a governor's salary of $175,000 a year, he's also awarded an allowance of around half of that to be used on official but vaguely defined purposes that may include hosting state receptions, maintaining official residences and other expenses. He spent $360,000 of that sum during his five years in office, and an analysis of those records showed that roughly $300,000 from the allocation – or around 80 percent – has gone towards food and alcohol, according to the group.

Among the major recipients of Christie’s allowance, the group reported, were supermarket chain Wegmans, where the mayor racked up $76,373 in charges during 53 shopping trips, and Delaware North Sportservice, the company that operates the concessions at the MetLife sports stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Christie used a debit card linked to it to pay more than $82,000 to DNS over the course of 58 occasions during that five-year-span.

In all, the account was used to buy $102,495 worth of groceries and alcoholic beverages from retail stores.

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Along itemized in the expense reports are $109,133 on catering, $35,027 on tents and rental equipment, $10,786 for office supplies, $6,536 at seven visits to ShopRite’s liquor stores and $4,338 on candy, cookies and confectionary.

Watchdog.org says the governor's office did not provide any receipts or further documentation to itemize those costs, but defended the expenses. The New Jersey Republican State Committee cut a check to reimburse the costs of the sports complex trips in March 2012, the group reported, and the governor has kept from using his account at that venue and others in the time since.

“The official nature and business purpose of the event remains the case regardless of whether the event is at the State House, Drumthwacket or a sporting venue,” Christie press secretary Kevin Roberts said in a statement.