Oh dear, it all seems to be unraveling over on the other side of the George Washington bridge. With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie still reeling from last week's bridgegate scandal, CNN is now reporting that the governor is facing some really uncomfortable questions: the federal government is investigating whether Christie misused the millions of dollars in Sandy relief funds for his own political gain.
According to CNN, federal auditors will be specifically looking at how the governor used the $25 million intended for a marketing campaign to boost New Jersey tourism after hurricane Sandy wrecked the coastline in 2012. Why? Well, it turns out that the state spent about $2 million more than it had to, just so that the advertisements would feature the Christies — oh, and this was while he was running of re-election. Not too bad a publicity bump, eh?
Christie was slammed at the time by Democrats who said it gave him an unfair advantage, but his aides — you remember how helpful his aides can be — claimed that the firm they chose just provided more value. The winning proposal, which featured Christie and his family, cost $4.7 million. The bid that didn't include Christie? $2.5 million.
“The fact that this particular proposal was chosen despite an obvious conflict of interest, in addition to the higher costs, raises serious concerns with the entire process. I fought hard for passage of the Sandy aid package in Congress by assuring our colleagues that this funding was critical to our recovery and that it would be spent responsibly without waste, fraud and abuse,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone wrote, in a letter he sent to Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general in August.
According to Pallone, the inspector general has, after going through a preliminary review of the spending, decided to launch a full-scale investigation into the incident.The findings will take a few months to come out.
Christie isn't the first governor of his state to star in tourism ads; almost every decade has proffered a serene snapshot of a New Jersey governor strolling along the shore. In the 80's, it was Gov. Tom Kean (R); Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) then walked that same shoreline in the 1990s; and Govs. Donald DiFrancesco (R) and Jim McGreevey (D) brought their families onto the scene in ads over the last ten years.
Here's a little refresher of Christie's, in case you need.
With the scandal over the life-threatening George Washington Bridge gridlock far from over, a Christie in the White House is ever more implausible.
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