Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearing Looks at Political Trips

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hearing Looks at Political Trips

Article excerpt

A state Senate committee plans to hold a hearing on a bill today that would prohibit governors from using taxpayer dollars for expenses incurred during political trips - including security costs.

The hearing comes a day after Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, D- Paramus, said he intends to introduce the same bill in the Assembly.

Taxpayers don't foot the bill for transportation, hotels or meals when Governor Christie, who is running for the GOP nomination for president, is traveling the country on political trips - but they do pay those expenses for his security detail. And those costs have grown as Christie has stepped up his attendance at political events outside the state in recent years. This week Christie spent Monday and Tuesday in South Carolina, and he is headed to Iowa for events on Friday and Saturday.

Lagana, who is running for reelection in one of the few competitive legislative districts this year, said his bill, once introduced, would prohibit governors from using public funds to pay for any expenses incurred during out-of-state trips that are not related to their official duties.

"If a governor wants to pursue political interests and, for example, requires security, fiscal responsibility dictates that it should be the governor or the affiliated campaign, not the taxpayers, who foots the bill," Lagana said.

Lagana said the measure would require the governor to submit a notice to the State Ethics Commission describing the date, destination and purpose of out-of-state travel related to political activities within 10 business days after the trip. It would also require the State Ethics Commission to investigate complaints related to activity by the governor that is political and not directly related to the governor's official duties.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, introduced the Senate version of the bill in May. …

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