The Politico reporter who uncovered that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy rang up more than $12,000 in state spending at MetLife Stadium concerts and sporting events called efforts like his vital to journalism.
Daniel Han, appearing on NewsNation to talk about his report published Tuesday by Politico, said that exploring how taxpayer funds are spent by elected officials is “a bedrock of journalism.”
“You look at how politicians are spending money,” Han said, “and it’s up to people to decide whether or not it is or is not appropriate.”
Han obtained public records to report on the expenses. As detailed in the Politico story and a NewsNation full-screen graphic shown during the interview, Murphy’s expenses included $936 in snacks at a Taylor Swift concert and spending between $1,400 and more than $2,800 each for a hip-hop festival headlined by Cardi B and Meek Mill, and food and drinks from two U.S. national team soccer games and two New York Jets games, one of which included a $45 transaction for extra guacamole.
At the time of the expenses, Han reported, the governor’s office had expected that New Jersey’s Democratic Party would pick up the tabs, but that “staffing transitions” left the state on the hook to pay up while state party officials looked into the matter.
Han said it “remains to be seen” whether Murphy could potentially pay the expenses himself, noting the governor is a “very wealthy man” who was an executive at Goldman Sachs before being elected governor.
“Will he ultimately open up his own personal pocketbook?” Han asked. “It’s not something I personally heard. I think we’ll have to look at what the state’s Democratic Party decides to do.”
The account, according to the NewsNation anchor interviewing Han, “shows more fun than business.” She later added, “this is very serious.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s precedent for such actions by a New Jersey governor. In 2015, Chris Christie made headlines for racking up expenses on the gubernatorial account at MetLife Stadium that totaled $82,000.
“That situation is a little bit different,” Han said. “Because while those expenses were incurred in 2010 and 2011, Gov. Christie proactively had the state’s Republican Party reimburse taxpayers for the cost of that entertainment.”