LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH, THE FAMOUS, AND THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNORS…. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a media darling and favorite of many Republican activists, has a penchant for complaining about wasteful government spending and public employees who abuse the system and fail to respect the taxpayers footing the bills.

In retrospect, Christie probably should have picked a different issue to focus on.

When he was a top federal prosecutor, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey routinely billed taxpayers for hotel stays whose cost exceeded government guidelines, according to a report the Justice Department released on Monday.

The report, by the department’s inspector general, examined travel expenses for all 208 people who served as a United States attorney from 2007 to 2009. It spoke of 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.”

While the report did not identify any prosecutors by name, the travel patterns of an official called “U.S. Attorney C” — the one “who most often exceeded the government rate without adequate justification” in terms of percentage of travel — match records about Mr. Christie that were released in the 2009 campaign for governor by his Democratic opponent, the incumbent, Jon S. Corzine.

There were, to be sure, other officials who abused the system, but Christie appears to have been the worst. In Boston, for example, he stayed at a $449-per-night. In D.C., he stayed at the $475-per-night Four Seasons. For both cities, the rate is more than double the government standard, but Christie nevertheless had taxpayers pick up the tab.

It wasn’t just lodging. In Boston, Christie could have taken a cab for the four miles between his luxurious hotel and the airport, but he instead took a $236 car service. In London, Christie’s drive to the airport cost $562. He had us pay for all of this, too.

It also doesn’t help that Christie, accused of this pattern of wasteful spending, “declined to speak with the inspector general’s investigators.”

I guess this is what passes for “fiscal conservatism” in Republican politics nowadays?

All of this, by the way, occurred towards the end of the Bush administration. The Obama administration has since implemented stricter limitations on U.S. Attorney travel, in the hopes of preventing Christie-style abuses.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.