Gov. Christie reimburses state for helicopter ride to baseball game

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has reimbursed the state for using a state police helicopter to ride to his son's baseball game, an incident that sparked a controversy for the governor.

Christie kicked in $1,232 to pay for his use of the helicopter on Tuesday to travel to the game, according to the governor's office. Christie's office said that the governor has taken 33 helicopter trips since he took office in 2010, the vast majority of which have been for official business.

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At a news conference on Thursday, Christie dismissed the uproar as a "joke" driven by "political hacks" and explained that he was trying to balance his dual roles as a governor and a father.

"We have tried to balance me being governor and the demands of that with my responsibilities of being a father," he said. "There are times when it is literally impossible to do that by car and two of those instances came up in the last week.

"If me writing a check ... will allow us to focus on the really important issues for the state of New Jersey, I am willing to do it."

Christie's helicopter ride drew national scrutiny and Democrats accused the governor of misusing the vehicle. 

The incident became a headache for Christie, who has been wooed by Republicans to enter the 2012 GOP presidential field. It came just days after a new poll showed that his job approval numbers reached a new low.

Following the game, Christie flew back to the governor's mansion to meet with a group of Republican donors and activists from Iowa, who attempted to get him to jump into the presidential race.

Christie on multiple occasions has said he will not run for president in 2012, going so far as to say he would have to commit suicide to convince people otherwise. 

The first-term governor will also reimburse the state $919 for flying in a state helicopter to see another of his son's games last Friday. The state GOP also contributed $1,232 to pay for the leg of the trip Tuesday to meet the Iowans.

State police said that Christie's trips came at no additional cost to New Jersey taxpayers, a claim Christie echoed on Thursday and Christie had initially refused to reimburse the cost.

"My initial reaction to not reimbursing was that there was nothing to reimburse for," Christie said, explaining why he made the announcement Thursday.

He also claimed that he tries to limit his helicopter use to instances where it is absolutely required and that he has had the "most judicious use of the helicopter of any governor in recent memory."

-- This post was updated at 4:32 p.m.