UPDATE: Feds Investigating Christie's Use Of Sandy Relief Funds

Federal officials are investigating whether Gov. Chris Christie improperly used Superstorm Sandy relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family, according to Rep. Frank Pallone's office.

In an August letter, Pallone, D-Monmouth, Middlesex, asked the inspector general in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to look into how Christie chose to spend the marketing money approved by the department.

Pallone wrote that he was concerned the contract was awarded to a firm that is charging over $2 million more than the next lowest bidder to develop the marketing plan.

The winning firm is being paid $4.7 million for its work, Pallone wrote, while a comparable firm proposed billing the state $2.5 million for similar work.

"This large discrepancy between the competing proposals raises concerns as to whether these federal funds are being spent in the most cost effective manner, and should be reviewed by your office," Pallone wrote.

Christie's office released a statement late Monday morning, saying “The Stronger Than The Storm" campaign was "just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama Administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy."

"Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly," according to the statement. "We're confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”

Pallone made the announcement in a statement Monday, commending the HUD Office of the Inspector General for investigating whether the state properly utilized taxpayer funds for this marketing campaign.

“Working with my New Jersey colleagues, we had to fight hard to get the Sandy aid package passed by assuring others in Congress the funding was desperately needed and would be spent responsibly," he said. "I also raised concerns that Governor Christie and his family appeared in taxpayer-funded advertisements during an election year.”

The revelations come just days after news of the so-called 'Bridgegate' scandal broke, and the release of emails involving the governor’s now-fired deputy chief of staff, who joked about causing hours-long traffic jams in Fort Lee after several lanes of the George Washington Bridge were suddenly closed last September.

A state Assembly committee plans to probe the controversy this week, issue additional subpoenas and call more of the principal figures in the scandal to testify.

Christie, in a marathon press conference Thursday, apologized for the incident and said the emails showed a “callous indifference’’ that shocked him. Christie said he knew nothing about the lane closures until reports surfaced.

Christie fired the aide, Bridget Anne Kelley, calling her actions “stupid.’’

Later Thursday, David Wildstein, the former Port Authority executive who quit under mounting pressure over the Fort Lee incident, appeared before the state Assembly’s Transportation Public Works and Independent Authorities committee, which is investigating the lane closures, but refused to answer questions. Wildstein was held in contempt by a unanimous vote of the committee and cited with a misdemeanor charge.

Also, the State Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday that an investigation will open to determine if any federal laws were broken.

Spooner January 13, 2014 at 10:09 AM
@Local Resident- I would agree that if Christie runs for President, all these skelton's in his closet including the latest two, will be front and center on almost every newspaper and cable news outlet as we move closer to the election...
Gordo K January 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM
What kind of moronic social studies teacher proposes that hurricane relief funds be spent on providing free high speed Internet wi-fi to the city of Newark? A nerd who is given custody of our children.
Mac January 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM
The saddest thing I have read in this article is that Christie is the best thing to happen to NJ in 30 years at least. And when one looks back over the past several NJ administrations, that very sorry sentiment proves to be correct. OMG! NJ has become the whacko Koch Bros. ultimate fantasy. And NJ is proud of that. Yes, the American educational system is our enemies most sophisticated weapon of mass destruction for sure. NJ has already surrendered.
J.JONES January 13, 2014 at 10:44 AM
WOW another political witch hunt by Democrats who got beat bad in Gov race won by Christie ..So et find as much as we can to have the people think he's the wrong person to run for the president come 2016..STOP with the trash talk and look at the issues don't by the trash talk vote for the good changes and the direction changes that is happening now in New Jersey ..Remember the past Dem Gov. that destroyed our State ..
CJV January 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Fatso er Gordo, it's an example of how we could have won the war on poverty 10 times over if Republicans and their cronies in industry, especially defense contractors, didn't steal so much money.
common sense January 13, 2014 at 10:52 AM
This is a witch hunt because NJ has the 'wicked witch of the east'. I also remember a republican Gov who almost destroyed our state named Whitman yet I think Tom Kean was a very good Governor and Corzine was terrible. Christie spends our $24 million on a special election for Senator because he wants to run up the score in November so he looks like 'superman' in a blue state. Money better spent here at the shore. If he runs, which I doubt since the far right doesn't trust him, he'll lose NJ because the state would have a huge turnout and that's not good for Chris.
J.JONES January 13, 2014 at 10:54 AM
When I see the true facts that there was a wrong and Christie was involved and guilty then I will change my vote .But till them its a witch hunt and let the truth be told ..Very tired of Jersey trash talk elections . We have become the blunt of many trash jokes and stories and if we look around there is so much more to get cleaned up in our state unemployment , foreclose homes ,crime is on the rise ,drugs is killing our children and many people don't know where they will get money to feed there children there next meal..DAMN WE HAVE SO MANY OTHER PROBLEM'S TO WORRY ABOUT ..
. January 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM
All of the people that voted for his second term, should be wondering how in the world he is governing New Jersey with all of this going on. As it is, he is hardly ever in the state. Now he has all of these other worries. Glad it is all catching up to him.
Nan January 13, 2014 at 11:24 AM
No one wondered when he was campaigning, and in the same add going on about Sandy, that maybe funding was being improperly used. I hate politics, but I am able to see what goes on.
joseph January 13, 2014 at 11:25 AM
even though I am not a fan of Christie,one would look at the whitehouse before him.600 million dollars for healthcare.gov.nothing wrong with this picture
Andy Pat January 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM
So let me get this straight. In the middle of a natural disaster we chose to spend more than $2 million EXTRA on the ads that included the Governor in a time period of his reelection campaign over the ads that did not include him. And some are calling this investigation a witch hunt? I say go over this guy with a fine tooth comb. If he comes out clean, so be it. He'll be stronger for it. If he comes out dirty, so be it.
Gordo K January 13, 2014 at 11:36 AM
@CJV: The "war on poverty"? Hmm ... yes, digression from the topic at hand is one way to avoid contributing anything of pertinent substance.
Mac January 13, 2014 at 11:41 AM
@Maruca - it wasn't all bad - one of the benefits we got out of all this unprincipled greed was that America was blessed with the removal of it's foremost welfare boardwalk - the downside is our heroin problem has spread out throughout our county looking for a new politically protected location
Cardinal January 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Is the lid coming off now?
Gordo K January 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM
@Maruca: Read Frank "Monkey Court" Pallone's blog, wherein HE claims to have "fought" for rebuilding boardwalks.
diane January 13, 2014 at 11:57 AM
I think too many of you drank the Kool-Aid already
Mac January 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM
@diane - in my defense, I couldn't help myself - they were passing it out for free at the Seaside Park boardwalk fire sale photo-op - it was billed as the Christie administration's 'Big Hug Slurpee' - it was to protect you from all of the Hurricane Sandy fire starters that show up on the boardwalk ten months after a tragic event and profiteer off of the perfect wind conditions and the firemen having their backs turned - and just think, our Governor, who never lets the public know his plans in advance, announced a few weeks before this boardwalk fire that he would be available that weekend only for emergency photo-ops due to taking his wife on a weekend jaunt - damn staff can't get anything right - yeah, right?
A Resident January 13, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Only question is the timing. Why so long for this investigation?
Jon Djmac McConnell January 13, 2014 at 01:44 PM
How would people let a overeating slob of a man be their governor? I let it happen only because Im overseas. Its things like this that just disgust me to the core.
Mel Sharples January 13, 2014 at 02:11 PM
AR - same reason the Norcross connection is coming out - reporters are looking and now EVERYONE is talking. Wonder how much of this came from the fall-woman who he threw under the bus and fired. Her only source of income now will be derived from what she can dish on CC.
suz January 13, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Oh, give me a break already with this 'scandal' crap. Christie used federal (yes, federal) funds that were granted to the state (approved by mainly dems in the house and your almighty Obama) to bring back tourism to the shore. NOT $$ that was intended for victims of Sandy. Does anyone here remember Keane?? He appeared in several ads when he was Governor promoting tourism ("NJ and you perfect together" ads)...and, duh, he is a Democrat and he used STATE funds (YOUR $$ ) to pay for these ads! I certainly hope all you cockroaches that came out of the woodwork also complained and bashed Keane ! Oh boy, I bet not!! Hypocrites.
common sense January 13, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Suz, just a few obvious pieces of information that point to the fact that you are a more on. Firstly, Tom Kean is a REPUBLICAN. He actually was a fine Repiblican governor. His son is currently the REPUBLICAN minority leader in the State Senate that Christie tried to replace. Christie was given his first taste of politics by Kean who lived in Livingston along with Christie. Secondly, ALL the funds that were finally released to NJ from a Republican lead House after weeks of kicking and screaming that even Christie called them out on, were intended for Hurricane relief and rebuilding, not tourism advertisements that were foolishly masked as tourism ads when they were actually campaign ads paid by "we the people". Kean made those ads that I rememebr of as pure and simply promoting the State, not him personally. I said this four years ago. One day, Christie will go too far and get caught doing what he lives to do. That's being a bully and a vindictive individual trying to get back at the world for what was done to him in North Jersey politically during the late 1990's.
Mac January 13, 2014 at 02:49 PM
hi suz - thanks for the introduction - I did criticize Governor Kean at the time about that promotion - I suggested the Governor add a disclaimer to his recorded statement like "NJ and You - Perfect Together - Especially When I Vacation at Home in Long Island" - it seems Governor Kean prefers to vacation at the family estate in Long Island rather than just south of the Seasides - and he was Christie's mentor I hear
Mel Sharples January 13, 2014 at 03:09 PM
Hey, genius. Tom Keane was a Republican. And, nobody complained when he was spending all that money because no one in this state prior to 2010 cared one iota about the state's finances. It was only when the Boomers retired and could no longer afford to pay for all the junk debt they ran up that this all became a problem. They could spend, but they would never pay!
Mac January 13, 2014 at 03:24 PM
back when Tom Kean was representing NJ, the Seasides were still attractive summer communities for family vacations - then along came Gilmore
Barb Rivera January 13, 2014 at 03:37 PM
Hurricane Sandy $$ should of never been given for the Boardwalk Fire. It was the fault of the town & it's inspectors who didn't do their job inspecting repairs that were made. I know after we made tens of thousands of dollars of repairs to our house after Hurricane Irene this Township made us get a CO.
Rick January 14, 2014 at 10:41 AM
The FBI is now investigating Christie because he revealed the secret handshake .
Michie511 January 15, 2014 at 07:31 AM
Usually people in commercials get paid every time the commercial airs. It can grow to six digits. They showed that commercial a lot. Did the bully, his wife & son get paid? I bet they did! We did not need a commercial to get people to go down the shore. We have f/b, Patch, newspapers, etc., and either free or very cheap. If anyone is naive enough to believe the "controlling" Bully is innocent of all charges, I have a bridge I would like to sell you - yup, the George Washington Bridge - real cheap too 😉.
suz January 15, 2014 at 08:16 AM
Common sense...I did post an error. Oops. Meant to post republican. So are you now going to bash me, as well? Just for the record...Can you spell moron? Guess not.
common sense January 15, 2014 at 08:44 AM
Suz...Certain blogs censor certain words automatically so I wanted to make sure you understood. You "meant" to post republican? You're full of it. You're just didn't know and didn't care to look it up, were full of hate and ranting. You're a friggin' imbecile, friggin' idiot and hypocrit too. How's my spelling now?


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