New Jersey taxpayers shelled out tens of thousands of dollars for security to send Gov. Phil Murphy on an overseas business trip last year, according to records obtained by NJ Advance Media.
As expensive as it is for the State Police’s Executive Protection Unit to trail the governor, the bill for the month Murphy went to Germany and Israel for eight days was about half of what it cost taxpayers when former Gov. Chris Christie traveled outside the country for the same number of days in 2014.
Murphy’s EPU bill was $67,763 bill for October, when the Democratic governor took the overseas business mission.
Christie’s security costs, meanwhile, totaled $114,275 for his three-day trip to Mexico, his two-day trip to Canada and his three-day trip London in 2014.
Christie’s office released the EPU costs for all three trips at once, while Murphy’s $67,763 bill for EPU expenses was for the full month of October.
The rest of both governors’ overseas trips were paid for by Choose New Jersey, a business-funded nonprofit formed in 2010 at Christie’s urging.
Governors and the heads of Choose New Jersey, which is run by gubernatorial loyalists, are the ones who decide the trips agendas, including which hotels to stay at and how far to travel. EPU is responsible for deciding how much security detail the governors need to have, which is not publicly disclosed.
Records show the full taxpayer cost of EPU protection for Murphy’s first year in office was $511,344. That’s about $100,000 more than Christie’s last year in office, which was $412,528.
EPU costs under Christie, a Republican, hit record highs when the former governor ran an unsuccessful bid for president. In 2015, taxpayers shelled out more than $614,000 as Christie traveled the country and camped out in New Hampshire.
In 2018, taxpayers paid an average of more than $42,000 a month for gubernatorial security, according to the records.
The most expensive month was January, when EPU sent the state a bill for $82,547. But that included overlap for Christie and Murphy, who took office on Jan. 16.
According to records, the other months show February’s bill was $23,185; March, $22,181; April, $21,446; May, $29,375; June, $23,611; July, $38,157; August, $44,125; September, $66,223; November, $45,010 and December, $17,381.
There were additional charges each month for cell phones, water and copier rentals that brought the total to $511,344.
Murphy’s first business mission was not the only time he spent out of state last year.
The freshman governor spent all or part of 100 days out of New Jersey in 2018, which included political travel, family trips and vacations.
They also included two extended vacations Murphy took with his family last year.
The first was an 11-day trip to Italy where Murphy and his wife own a 23-room mansion in the small town of Parrano they purchased for about $7.3 million in 2004. The other came at the end of the year, when the family set off for a 12-day vacation in East Africa.
Murphy’s count was double the amount that Christie spent outside the Garden State during his first year.
Christie later became a prolific traveler leading up to and during his presidential bid. But in 2010, his first year, he spent all or part of only 49 days out of the state, according to public records.
Matt Arco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.
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