It took a whole week, but the right-wing media has finally offered up a (dubious) defense for New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who was chastised by a Department of Justice Office Inspector General report that found that when he served as a U.S. Attorney he often stayed in expensive hotels that cost more than DOJ travel stipends allow. The findings were embarrassing for Christie, who has made government spending and government waste a political priority for his New Jersey administration.
Now Daily Caller finally strikes back. Not by debunking any of the DOJ's findings about Christie's overspending, but by trying to smear the DOJ attorney who wrote the report. Quoting partisan conservatives, The Daily Caller claims the DOJ attorney in question has had a “troubled career” at the DOJ and, more importantly, has it out for conservatives. And that's why she set out to write the nasty, get-Christy report. (Over at Gateway Pundit, smear merchant Jim Hoft, regurgitating the Daily Caller report, condemns the DOJ attorney as a “far left” “crackpot.”)
But here's the obvious flaw in the smear campaign. What the Daily Caller and right-wing bloggers want readers to believe is that the DOJ report was designed to single out Christie and to embarrass him politically. When in fact, as the report makes quite plain, the investigation began as a review of all U.S. Attorney's travel expenses, and then based on preliminary findings it focused on a just a handful of U.S. Attorneys who spent too much money on travel and lodging.
From the report:
There are 93 U.S. Attorneys, and during the period of our review (2007- 2009), 208 individuals served as U.S. Attorneys. At our request, JMD itemized the travel costs that the Department reimbursed to these U.S. Attorneys. In addition, the USAOs provided the OIG with the U.S. Attorneys' travel documents which, among other items, included travel authorizations, vouchers, and receipts. We then calculated the percentage of vouchers with lodging that exceeded the government rate.
Based on the JMD data, we identified 16 U.S. Attorneys for closer examination due to the significant number or percentage of claims they submitted for reimbursement above the government rate. We conducted a detailed review of the lodging reimbursement claims made by these 16 U.S. Attorneys. Of these, we identified five U.S. Attorneys who exhibited a noteworthy pattern of exceeding the government rate and whose travel documentation provided insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification for the higher lodging rates. We also identified other U.S. Attorney travel practices that did not rise to the level of a pattern associated with a particular U.S. Attorney but that we found questionable.
Got that? The DOJ report, which supposedly targeted Christie for political reasons, began as a review of more than two hundred individuals and their travel expenses. Then it was whittled down to 16, and then to five. Christie was among those five. But somehow according to Daily Caller, the investigation was hatched with the singular purpose of targeting just one man.
That makes no sense. Then again, it's the Daily Caller.