In a new development that should surprise no one, it turns out Governor Chris Christie failed to report or pay taxes on over $380,000 in allowances of public money. It’s just another black mark on a growing laundry list of shady practices that have come to define the Christie governorship. From the “Bridgegate” scandal to accepting luxurious gifts from foreign leaders, it’s clear that there has been a pattern of corrupt behavior which Christie has been growing more and more comfortable with, and that he would bring all that baggage with him to the White House should he decide to make a run for the presidency.
The state of New Jersey provides a salary of $175,000 a year to the governor, along with a $95,000 expense allowance originally intended for maintenance and holding functions at the lavish governor’s mansion at Drumthwacket. The maintenance of Drumthwacket is now handled by a nonprofit agency, allowing Mr. Christie to use the $95,000 as an extension of his personal salary in lieu of living in the mansion. He has failed to file that allowance, paid for by the taxpayers, as income for the past four years straight, allowing him to dodge $152,000 in federal income tax and another $33,000 in state taxes.
This just seems par for the course for a man who gave out two billion dollars in tax breaks to corporations associated with his political allies– including a tax break that was worth more than the company it was given to. He drafted and signed an executive order allowing his travel expenses to be paid for by third parties, which is how he generously let King Abdullah of Jordan pick up a $30,000 hotel tab for him on a business trip. The list goes on and on; for example, state taxpayers paid over $13,000 for Mr. Christie and his family to attend the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans. In addition to the federal investigation over the George Washington bridge closures in 2012, yet another federal investigation is looking into the quashing of grand jury indictments against Christie’s political supporters in 2010. On top of all that, the Manhattan District Attorney is investigating Christie’s administration for the misappropriation of $1.8 billion in Port Authority infrastructure funds that somehow found their way somewhere else.
The allegations and investigations keep on piling on Mr. Christie, who somehow still thinks he has a reasonable shot at the Republican nomination. He travels to New Hampshire this week, where he announced Tuesday morning that he plans to raise the age for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, along with the minimum age of early retirement. But the lengthy list of corruption charges, criminal abuses of power, and the sheer brazen willingness to take advantage of his position should immediately disqualify him from the White House. The wanton use of public funds with no remorse by Mr. Christie should be recognized as grave warning signs for what he might do if he had access to America’s budget. Under the Republican Congress and the influence of corporate lobbyists, Washington has turned into a veritable bazaar of influence and favors, and the last thing America needs is a greasy schemer like Christie getting his paws deeper in the mud.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.