During his tenure in office, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has benefited from numerous high-end perks from wealthy backers, raising ethical questions about the advantages some may be receiving through their patronage, The New York Times reported
"The governor, a Republican now preparing a run for president, shot to national prominence as a cheese-steak-on-the-boardwalk Everyman who bluntly preached transparency and austerity as the antidote to bloated state budgets.
"But throughout his career in public service, Mr. Christie has indulged a taste that runs more toward Champagne at the Four Seasons," the Times said.
"He has also quietly let others pay the bills."
The Times pointed out that Christie is not the only politician in either party to face criticism for taking advantage of luxury travel. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also been under fire for her use of private planes often paid for by others.
But Christie's acceptance of hospitality from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
last month has prompted a state ethic inquiry.
And details are now emerging of benefits Christie received on his 2012 trade mission trip to Israel complete with a private commercial flight paid for by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and a luxury weekend paid for by King Abdullah of Jordan for Christie and his family.
A Christie spokeswoman, Maria Comella, described Abdullah as "a friend" the governor had previously met at a dinner hosted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"King Abdullah invited the governor and his family to Jordan as his personal guest so the two families could spend time together."
Christie has also been a guest on the private plane and in the stadium box of Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets. He, like Adelson, had been against a gambling bill that was put before the governor by the legislature.
In the end Christie signed the bill but Adelson said that Christie told him he only signed it because had he vetoed it, the veto would have been overridden, the Times reported.
On his current trip to London
, Christie flew on a commercial flight even though he flew privately for three separate trade missions. He has brought his family on all of the trips and stays at five-star hotels, it was reported.
For his part, Christie sees no impropriety and is unapologetic.
"I relish these experiences and exposures, especially for my kids," he told a reporter for the Times last summer. "I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can."
Nevertheless, during his tenure as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, "Mr. Christie's first class tastes have become well known," the Times said, as he's traveled throughout the country, requiring private planes, for example, as a condition of appearances.
"While many high-profile Republican politicians resist insinuating themselves into celebrity circles, Mr. Christie seeks them out — Howard Stern in the Hamptons; Donald J. Trump at Jean-Georges in Manhattan, where the menu begins at $128 per person. He danced onstage with Jamie Foxx at a celebrity benefit at the Hamptons in August before a crowd that included Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro," the Times said.
And New Jersey taxpayers paid for Christie, his wife and two aides to travel to the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans in advance of New Jersey hosting the 2014 game. Airfare was in excess of $8,000 plus more than $3,000 for hotels, according to the Times.
Christie's office has tried to prevent the disclosure of travel expenses despite lawsuits and public records requests, arguing that he is not subject to disclosure laws regarding travel, or in some cases, does not have the records.
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