Things just keeping getting worse and worse for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. As he is dealing with the firestorm over Bridgegate, and seeing his Presidential ambitions of 2016 slip away, another scandal is brewing to start this week off. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating Christie’s use of Sandy relief funds to see if there was any improper use.
Out of the money that was sent to New Jersey in the wake of the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, $25 million was earmarked for marketing. That means that the state was able to utilize this money to help promote the state’s tourism and hopefully bring much needed revenue to seaside resort towns that suffered severe damage. The marketing campaign brought up some questions, leading Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to send a letter to HUD requesting an investigation.
Pallone is concerned that Christie was utilizing the marketing campaign as a de facto reelection advertising blitz. The winning bidder on a series of commercials focused its ads on Christie and his family. This advertising company charged $4.7 million for its ads. Meanwhile, another company sent in a much lower bid ($2.5 million) but did not feature the governor in its ads. The ads ran over the spring and summer, providing Christie with an unfair advantage during his reelection campaign as he was given a large-scale marketing campaign at the expense of the taxpayers.
This goes beyond the display of egotism and the political shell game that Christie played. With people still struggling more than a year after the storm hit, every single dollar matters. Christie wasted over $2 million so he could get free advertising to boost his image during an election season. While Christie was making a big deal about House Republicans dragging their feet on Sandy relief aid, he was planning on using the funds to do whatever it took to improve the Christie brand.
HUD’s investigation will take several months, but they saw enough smoke to feel that there might be a fire somewhere. If it is revealed that Christie improperly used Sandy relief funds, it will potentially damage the governor more than Bridgegate. One of the reasons Christie’s popularity was so high in the state in 2013, leading to an easy reelection, was his response to Sandy. New Jersey residents had a sense that Christie cared about them deeply and wanted to go beyond politics to get relief for and rebuild the Jersey Shore.
This shows that Christie only saw opportunity in a devastating event and crassly used money sent to help the people of New Jersey to further his own political ambitions. Combine this with Bridgegate, and Christie is complete toast when it comes to 2016. These past weeks have shown us the true face of Chris Christie. He is nothing more than a vengeful, petty political animal who has no problem misusing public funds for his own personal ambitions while gladly seeking retribution against anyone who gets in his way.