Governor Christie has come under fire for appearing in a series of federally funded advertisements aimed at increasing New Jersey tourism after Superstorm Sandy. The ads — filmed using Sandy relief funds — feature Governor Christie and his family on a beach. Critics claim Governor Christie’s appearance on the ads was self-promotional, a possible publicity move for the on-the-up politician.
Democratic New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone announced Monday that the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development had agreed to to his request for a full investigation of state use of Sandy relief funds. Federal auditors will investigate whether funds designed to promote economic development were properly applied after the storm.
Pallone requested the investigation in August, citing reports that another agency offered to produce the ads for $2 million less than Governor Christie ultimately paid. This less-costly offer would not have included Governor Christie in the ads. Instead the governor opted for the more expensive package: a contract with the MWW Group, which included Governor Christie’s appearance in the ads, as well as a televised ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“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,” Rep. Pallone said in a press release.
Possible consequences of the audit include repayment of misused funds and tightened restrictions on government delegation of emergency funds.