As his first official step in a likely run for the White House, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has formed a political action committee to raise money, hire a staff and fund his campaign trips.
For New Jersey taxpayers, the bad news will be an increase in Christie’s out-of-state political sojourns and the cost of the state police protection details that travel with the governor.
New Jersey Watchdog first reported the travel costs of the Executive Protection Unit have grown by 1,800 percent since Christie became governor in 2010. So far, those expenses have totaled nearly $1 million — not including unreleased expense information for the fourth quarter of 2014, according to state records.
Christie announced the launch of his Leadership Matters for America political action committee Monday on Facebook.
“The PAC’s goal to get real leadership back in our country starts today,” posted Christie. “So, let’s get to work.”
That effort will include more political journeys as Christie crisscrosses the country in search of support and campaign contributions. Last year, the governor traveled outside New Jersey on more than 100 days while visiting 36 states, Mexico and Canada, primarily to raise more than $106 million as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Earlier this month, Christie’s trips to Dallas Cowboys football games raised questions on his gifts from team owner Jerry Jones, plus the public expense of protecting the governor on trips outside of his official duties.
Records released by the governor’s office show the state police security details has racked up nearly $800,000 in American Express bills. Christie’s staff rejected a New Jersey Watchdog reporter’s request for the American Express monthly statements that would detail those expenses, contending releasing the records would jeopardize the governor’s safety.