Irritated by Gov. Chris Christie’s use of a state police helicopter for out-of-state use, Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) today announced she is drafting legislation that would immediately prohibit the practice.
“The state of New Jersey has a very limited number of these multi-million dollar aircraft and they should not be used cavalierly to leave our air space for the sole purpose of ferrying a Governor to out-of-state political events,” said Greenstein, who is also Chairwoman of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. “When I learned that Governor Christie used the aircraft to take him from the Governor’s beach house on Long Beach Island to a fundraiser in the Hamptons playground on Long Island it just didn’t sit right with me on a number of levels.
“First, and foremost,” Greenstein added, “the helicopter exiting our air space leaves us with one fewer asset should there be an emergency here in New Jersey from High Point to Cape May, especially during our own very busy summer holiday and tourist season.
“Additionally, the Governor by our Constitution no longer exercises gubernatorial powers when he leaves New Jersey, so he is in essence a private citizen using a very valuable and limited asset belonging to the taxpayers of New Jersey for what is in essence private business. In this case, he was pursuing his own aspirations running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States and that’s fine, but it just shouldn’t be aided with taxpayer-funded assets such as State Police helicopters.”
According to a report published this week on NJ.com, the governor used a State Police helicopter seven times in the two months since he announced his presidential bid. More than half of the flights were for campaign travel, according to the report.
Greenstein noted that while the Governor’s presidential campaign has reportedly reimbursed the state Treasury for campaign flights, she added, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to use multi-million dollar taxpayer-purchased assets and emergency response equipment like helicopters to leave the state purely for political purposes.
“What’s to stop the Governor from taking this asset to, Portsmouth, N.H., for one of his town hall meetings or another presidential campaign fundraiser?” Greenstein asked. “Then the helicopter could be hours away when that asset could be needed in a life-and-death emergency for our citizens here in New Jersey.’’
Greenstein said she will introduce the legislation later this month when the Senate returns to session.