Feds looking into Christie use of Sandy relief funds

Federal investigators are looking into how Governor Christie used relief funds from Hurricane Sandy in a tourism marketing campaign.

Is this a making a mountain out of a mole hill?


In the new probe, federal auditors will examine New Jersey's use of $25 million in Sandy relief funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore after Sandy decimated the state's coastline in late 2012, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN

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

Neither the governor's office nor the inspector general's office has replied to CNN's request for comment on the investigation.

Pallone wrote that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm awarded the marketing plan; the winning firm is charging the state about $2 million more than the next lowest bidder. The winning $4.7 million bid featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies.

On Sunday, Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review of the spending and concluded that there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state's use of federal funds. The audit will take several months, and the findings will be issued in an official report, he said.

Pallone, a 27-year veteran of the House and vocal Christie critic, said this is not about politics.

"This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. And, as you know, many of my constituents still haven't gotten the money that is owed them to rebuild their homes or raise their homes or to help," he told CNN.

The money was earmarked for a marketing campaign and had absolutely nothing to do with general relief of New Jersey residents. The marketing campaign was approved by HUD so it could not have been "directly" used except as part of the advertising campaign. To claim otherwise is pure politics.

Unless the firm that won the contract despite the higher bid is run by a family member or good friend (very possible in New Jersey), this is a tempest in a tea pot. There are many reasons why low bids don't always win. Picking one possible explanation is fishing.

Did Christie use the ads to advance his career? Duh. The fake outrage over this issue is simply a case of the Democrats piling on while Christie is down.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky