Open season on Chris Christie: New Jersey governor facing investigation into possible misspending of federal aid earmarked for victims of 2012's Super-Storm Sandy

Claims his office accepted a $4.7 bid for TV ads declaring the Jersey Shore open for business that involved his participation rather than a $2.5 million alternative that would not have cast him

The tribulations of Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey hit by revelations of allegedly politically motivated lane closures onto the George Washington Bridge, are multiplying amid separate questions about possible misspending of federal aid earmarked for victims of Super-Storm Sandy in 2012.

Already reeling from the ‘bridgegate’ allegations, Mr Christie was on the defensive again after it emerged that a federal agency is investigating whether money was improperly spent on advertisements promoting New Jersey tourism that featured him and his family as he was preparing to run for re-election as governor.

The probe, launched by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, appears to be focused on why the governor’s office accepted a $4.7 bid for TV spots declaring the Jersey Shore open for business that involved his prominent participation rather than a $2.5 million alternative that would not have cast him.

“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,” Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democratic in the US House of Representatives, told CNN.

Democrat gripes about the ads have been circulating for months and in normal times they might have drawn scant attention. Now they will serve to compound a growing and damaging impression that Mr Christie, known for his swagger, has somehow conducted himself as if he were above the law. Just days after the bridge affair exploded into the headlines, it is clear that for now it is open season on him.

All this at a time when Mr Christie, who recaptured his governorship last November in a landside, should have been consolidating his image as a shoo-in for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Instead, both his annual state of the state address scheduled for Tuesday and his second-term inauguration set for next week will now be eclipsed by what has become a serious outbreak of political pox.

The bridge affair had also been simmering for months. Then last week emails and text messages made public that had been exchanged between top aides and appointees seemed to make clear that the closure over three days last September off two lanes from Fort Lee onto the world’s busiest bridge had been ordered as part of an attempt to punish that town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election.

Mr Christie responded by firing two of the aides involved and insisting that he had had no idea what they had been up to and that they had bare-faced lied to him insisting that the closures were part of a traffic management study. His assertion that he was clueless has, however, been met with assorted levels of scepticism even among some of his Republican friends.

The spasms unleashed by the revelations are surely far from over and could quickly swallow Mr Christie should any evidence emerge contradicting his claims of ignorance. An investigating committee led by Democrats in the state’s legislative assembly in Trenton, the state capital, is preparing to issue new subpoenas to question witnesses in the case. Mr Christie could be one of those ordered to testify.

The TV ads that are now at issue were part of a Jersey is ‘Stronger than the Storm’ campaign that included vignettes of Christie, his wife and children at the Jersey Shore sunnily declaring it open for tourism business again just months after Sandy caused widespread destruction throughout the area in October 2012. 

“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,” Christie spokesman Colin Reed said.

While Mr Christie was characteristically vigorous in his bridgegate denials last week, many commentators noted that in the course of a nearly two-hour press conference, he managed to speak repeatedly about himself and almost not at all about the thousands of New Jersey commuters who were delayed or otherwise hurt by the massive snarl-ups caused by the lane closures. That has itself helped feed the narrative that as well as being a bully in office he also has an unfailing knack for narcissism.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'