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Ex-LA U.S. Atty. Writes Check After Getting Busted for Ripping Off Taxpayers: He’s 1 of 5 U.S. Attys Cited in IG Report

Thomas O'Brien/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Former Los Angeles U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien says he wrote a check this week reimbursing the government in instances where he stayed in hotel rooms that cost more than the government-approved rate, the Los Angeles Times reported.

O’Brien was one of five U.S. Attorneys cited in a Justice Department Inspector General report released Monday who went beyond the government approved rate on different occasions. The report, which covered the years 2007 to 2009, did not identify the U.S. Attorney’s by name.

But two others names identified in media reports included former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is now governor of New Jersey,  and former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan.

Mary Beth Buchanan

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which identified Buchanan, reported that the violators weren’t required to reimburse taxpayers because rules at the time allowed U.S. Attorney’s to approve their own travel.

The report found that some of O’Brien’s claims for reimbursement were “inappropriate and egregious violations” of the travel policies, the Times reported. It said the total overage amounted to $903.

The Times reported that O’Brien, now in private practice, denied any misconduct, but takes “full responsibility” for any oversights.

The Times reported that O’Brien said all his travel was approved by Washington and that he was not asked to repay for the overages,, he did so on Tuesday, one day after the report was released.

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette wrote that Buchanan had overages of $4,221.

The Post-Gazette reported that in June Buchanan said she had always followed department rules if she had gone over the government rate.

Gov. Chris Christie/state photo

Chris Christie

“I can assure you the process was followed each and every time,” she said, according to the paper.

As for Christie, the report, which identified him only as “U.S. Attorney C”, said :  “These 14 vouchers exceeded the government rate by $19 to $242 per night, for a total of $2,176 (excluding taxes for domestic travel). U.S. Attorney C’s lodging costs exceeded the government rate by more than $100 per night on 9 of the 14 vouchers.”

He has publicly declined to comment on the report.

The report said Christie — considered a rising star in the Republican party – stayed at the Nine Zero Hotel in Boston for $449 per night and the $475-per-night Four Seasons Hotel in Washington at a cost of more than double the government rate for those cities.

The website Main Justice was the first to identify Christie as a violator.

Read report.

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