I'm used to New Jersey politicians making us the object of derision for the other 49... But, you've got to hand it to James E.; he's got them laughing on the other side of the lake now, too!

The Irish Times

By CONOR O'CLERY
November 29, 2002

Governor makes a fine meal of New Jersey taxpayers in Banbridge

NEW YORK
When the Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Mr James McCreevey (sic), entertained Irish relatives to a slap-up meal in a restaurant in Banbridge, Co Down, last July, it wasn't the governor who was paying, it was the New Jersey taxpayers.

Mr McCreevey (sic) has now had to apologise and refund the $3,178.00 bill out of his own pocket, after his state-sponsored largesse was exposed by the Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark.

The governor will also ask the state Democratic Party to repay $60,000 charged to taxpayers for the week-long trip to Ireland, billed as a trade mission, on which Mr McCreevey (sic) spent a total of $ 105,000. The balance was paid by private corporations and citizens. The costs charged to the state of New Jersey included the Banbridge restaurant bill and $ 16,000 for mobile telephone charges, as well as a stay in a suite at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin at $720 a night.

The governor was accompanied by his wife Dina, several staff members and three state troopers acting as security guards.

The apology came after rising criticism of the bill for the visit which Mr McCreevy (sic) originally said would cost New Jersey only $20,000.

Mr McCreevy (sic), the Jersey City-born grandson of an immigrant police officer from Banbridge, has frequently been nominated Irishman of the year by Irish-American organisations in New Jersey.

He said he had made a mistake in charging the trip to taxpayers.

"While a trade mission may be valuable, the need to understand the importance of watching the taxpayers' dollars is key and to spend that amount was an error in judgment. I take responsibility and I am sorry it occurred."

Republican state senator Diana Allen commented: "The governor said that this was a trade mission and it was -- he was trading our hard-earned tax dollars for a good time."

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