Wrigley: US Atty travel probe didn't include meBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said he was never questioned during a Justice Department probe that recently spotlighted allegedly profligate travel spending by five of his former colleagues, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
By: DALE WETZEL , Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said he was never questioned during a Justice Department probe that recently spotlighted allegedly profligate travel spending by five of his former colleagues, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Wrigley is set to become North Dakota's next lieutenant governor in December, when Gov. John Hoeven resigns to prepare for his new job as a U.S. senator and Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple succeeds Hoeven.
Wrigley served as the state's chief federal prosecutor for eight years, resigning in August 2009 to become a vice president at a Fargo company that processes Medicare insurance claims.
The Justice Department inspector general's report examined travel vouchers submitted by U.S. attorneys from 2007 through 2009 to see how frequently they claimed hotel reimbursements greater than the rates normally paid by the federal government.
Wrigley said Thursday he had not read the report, which was made public this week, and that he was never contacted by anyone as part of the review. He said he did not recall ever staying at a hotel that charged more than the federal government rate during his tenure as North Dakota's U.S. attorney.
“I wasn't traveling to places like New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia,” Wrigley said. “I went to a couple of conferences in bigger cities, and it seems like that is where it would happen most.”
The report looked closely at 16 U.S. attorneys who stayed more frequently in swankier hotels, and listed five “who exhibited a noteworthy pattern of exceeding the government rate and whose travel documentation provided insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification for the higher lodging rates.”
The five were not identified, but a spokesman for Christie, who served as New Jersey's U.S. attorney before he was elected the state's governor last year, has said one of the examples referred to Christie. The report says that on 14 trips, Christie spent $2,176 more than the government rate on hotels.
Most U.S. attorneys “never or rarely exceeded the government rate,” the report says, adding that “the practice of seeking reimbursement above the government rate was concentrated among a relatively small number” of federal prosecutors. There are 93 U.S. attorney positions, and 208 people served in one of them during the three years that investigators reviewed.
Wrigley said all travel by U.S. attorneys is extensively documented, and he said he did not seek out opportunities to travel out of state.
“I traveled when I needed to travel,” he said. “I never wanted to be looking for extra days to travel.”