By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2011, 8:35am PT  

Well, now we know how much the NJ state Republican Party --- if they were the ones who really picked up the tab --- were willing to spend to send Gov. Chris Christie out to secretly hob-nob with the millionaire and billionaire corporatists at the Koch brothers' super-secret conference near Vail, CO, last June.

In a story headlined "Christie Comes Clean on Trips as N.J. Governor Seeks Donations," Bloomberg News reports that Christie "has made at least 35 political appearances outside New Jersey since he took office in January 2010, according to a review of his public schedule, published reports and Republican State Committee finance records filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission."

"Those trips became a political issue after Christie’s June attendance at a private Colorado gathering hosted by the Tea-Party-backing Koch brothers came to light," the news agency says. "Christie, who pledged a 'new era of transparency' in his inaugural address, didn’t notify the public or legislative leaders that he left the state that day."

But buried in that story was this little gem...

The New Jersey Republican committee paid $63,000 for a chartered jet to fly Christie to a closed-door seminar June 26 near Vail, Colorado, public election records show. The event was sponsored by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire oilmen, and Christie’s participation became public only when the magazine Mother Jones posted a secret recording of his speech to its website Sept. 7.

$63,000 for a one day trip there and back? Apparently he didn't fly Southwest.

That seems like a lot of money considering Christie compared the Koch jaunt to a "family trip" or a quick stop at the deli, when he was initially asked to explain why he didn't disclose the trip in the first place.

Was the NJ Republican Party reimbursed for that $63k by the Kochs? By some other corporate entity? Or does the state party just have $63k sitting around to blow on what was supposed to have been a secret trip, until we otherwise blew that secret with our exclusive at Mother Jones a few weeks back, revealing Christie's secret keynote address for the billionaire brothers?

Hopefully someone can do some more digging there. We can't imagine working man donors to the NJ GOP being asked to scrape up $50 or $100 donations would be too happy to see that kind of profligate spending --- at least not without getting something in return. But what do we know?

In the meantime, as we reported following our MoJo story, NJ state Democrats have since introduced a bill requiring the Governor to notify state legislative leaders when he leaves Jersey. Not long thereafter, state Democrats created a website to make hay out of it all --- including a Google map tracking Christie's many national travel destinations (at least the ones that they know of) outside of the Garden State.

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