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Gov. Christie, GOP to reimburse state for helicopter trips

June 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the State Republican Committee will reimburse the state for all personal use of a state police helicopter, which includes two trips to watch his oldest son's baseball games.

Spokeswoman Maria Comella says Christie has paid $2,251 to the state to cover the cost of all trips.

Comella also says the state GOP has paid $919 to cover the cost of Christie's trip Tuesday when used the helicopter to fly 75 miles from a game in Montvale to Princeton to take meeting with a group of top GOP campaign contributors from Iowa.

Democrats called for an investigation on Wednesday, while GOP leaders were mute on the incident, with no one immediately coming to his defense.

"Gov. Christie obviously doesn't include himself in his hollow call for shared sacrifice," Democratic state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty said. "Gov. Christie must learn that taxpayers cannot afford his helicopter joyrides."

While state police helicopters cost $2,500 an hour to operate, State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said that giving Christie a lift did not cost taxpayers anything extra because the pilots need to put in flying time anyway to keep their skills sharp.

Christie, his wife, Mary Pat, and an aide arrived by helicopter just before Tuesday night's game in Montvale to watch their oldest son, Andrew. The couple stepped off the aircraft and into a trooper-driven car that drove them 100 yards to the bleachers. They watched the game surrounded by state troopers.

Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the New Jersey attorney general's office, said that as the state's chief executive, Christie can use the helicopter "at any time for any purpose" and that it was up to the governor to decide if he should reimburse the state for personal use.

Christie, a pugnacious, budget-cutting Republican, has been widely mentioned as a potential GOP candidate for president.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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