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Federal Investigation to Look Into Chris Christie's Use of Sandy Relief Funds

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, americans, Chris Christie, corruption, cover-up, crime, ethics, lies, media, politics )

- 1589 days ago -
A new federal investigation is looking into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's use of Super-storm Sandy relief funds

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:01 am
Photo Credit: ABC News

****Please do watch the short video at the site.

TRENTON (WABC) -- A new federal investigation is looking into New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

Federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads starring him and his family.

Assemblyman Frank Pallone says there is reason to believe there is a problem and that these are serious questions.

Pallone requested the audit in an original letter back in August, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development did a preliminary review.

"It's like a campaign ad, it features the governor's family and people in the middle of a campaign won't see the difference," said Pallone.

Pallone was notified at the end of last week that this would be a full blown investigation, just days after Christie dismissed two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The audit will reviews the state's use of $25 million of Sandy aid funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore. At issue is the bidding process for the campaign and released documents that raise questions as to why the state chose to award the contract to a firm that Pallone says charged the state more than $2 million than a comparable bid for similar work.

The company that submitted the more expensive bid has ties to the Christie Administration and offered to feature him in the ad. The losing bid did not.

"I commend the HUD Office of the Inspector General for investigating whether the state properly utilized taxpayer funds for this marketing campaign," Pallone said. "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. I also raised concerns that Governor Christie and his family appeared in taxpayer-funded advertisements during an election year."

The audit will be complete in several months, at which time an official report will be issued.

Christie spokesman Colin Reed says the federal government approved the campaign and that the administration expects a review will find it was effective.

The ads have been controversial from the start.

"it looks like a bio ad, oh come to New Jersey, but I don't want to pay for ads for somebody's advertising coming out of Sandy relief fund. It gives the whole thing a black eye," said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a potential Christie rival in the 2016 presidential campaign.

But a Christie spokesman said "The ad campaign has already been praised by the Obama administration."

"It's not actually doing the advertising that is bothering me, it's that the lower bidder wasn't chosen and the one that was chosen was twice as much, an extra $2 million," said Pallone.

ABC News


Solitary Eagle (324)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:09 am
I can't even begin to imagine the havoc that Chris Christie could cause as President.

Brad H (21)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:38 am

Roseann d (178)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 8:13 am
Christie as Prez would be like America's Mussolini. Careful...Faux, Wall Street, corporations and lobbyists still want this to happen. Not that any other GOPer would be any better.

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 9:18 am
The image of tourism promotion as Sandy relief activity is deeply disturbing--I cannot think of any State functions images more diametrically opposed at the moment. Definitely deserving of an in-depth investigation.

Robert B (60)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 12:28 pm
One would think that ALL of the relief money would go to RELIEF, especially since homeowners had to suffer for months.

Suzanne O (33)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 12:55 pm
"Will the State use some of the CDBG-DR funds to promote the Jersey Shore and let people know that New Jersey is open for business?

The State has proposed a $25 million program for a Tourism Marketing Campaign that will promote storm-impacted businesses and shore communities by letting the nation know that New Jersey is recovering and open for business. The campaign would also encourage New Jerseyans and tourists to shop locally. The Administration has requested, and HUD has approved, a special waiver to allow this program which will provide much needed assistance to the vital tourism industry that is critical to our shore communities."

Just a couple points.

HUD approved the use of $25 million to bring business back to the shore and New Jersey. I believe just over $5 million of this was used for this Stronger than the Storm campaign. To which I really grew tired of very quickly but they did burn that stupid song into your brain. How many governors promote tourism through advertising for their states? I often see the ads featuring state governors on television myself from other states.

Unfortunately, Sandy hit at an election time. Did Governor Christie initiate that as well?

Whether you want to admit it or not. At that time and even to date Governor Christie is the shore's representative. He is the face of the Jersey shore. From what I have heard from local reports is that this campaign was actually very successful in getting people back to the shore.

Pallone, a backer of Corzine through the reign of terror he implemented on us is looking to discredit Governor Christie. Sour grapes after his candidate of choice Buono, another Corzine buddy got stomped and didn't even garner the support of her own party. No wonder he claims these to be campaign ads. She didn't have the funding from her own party.

I'm just putting this out there because of all this talk of political retribution. Hmm... I wonder.

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 12:58 pm
The evidence seems to indicate the ad campaign had about double the price tag that it could have had--that is a usual cause for investigation in government.

Suzanne O (33)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 1:17 pm
Do you know what the other ad campaign consisted of? Have you seen the bid proposal? I haven't. Maybe it wasn't worth it.

Personally, anyone seeing those ads that ran will never forget them because they were so annoying. Governor Christie at the time was a rock star. He was a good choice to push the point that we are stronger than the storm.

I, being a Jerseyan, who does not live down the shore but had my community devastated by tree damage from the storm, who had no power for 11 days. Who during this time had a Noreaster come through dropping about 4-5 inches of snow on top of us am quite tired of hearing of the damage to the shore. They got it really bad for sure. No denying that. However, the rest of New Jersey saw a lot of damage and hardship as well. So I hated those ads but they were necessary for those towns recoveries. I get that.

I welcome an investigation in to spending any time against any politicians use of it. I also think this is motivated by other reasons.

I also don't think aide money should be used for advertising but then again they need to advertise to rebuild. Summer at the shore is their life blood. So I suppose in a sense it was a necessary evil.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 1:35 pm

A housing advocacy group yesterday filed a lawsuit seeking to force New Jersey to provide information about three of its largest housing-grant programs, which are expected to provide $850 million in assistance to residents affected by superstorm Sandy. At least two of the programs must provide a majority of funds to low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

The information sought by the lawsuit may help explain why five communities in Bergen and Hudson counties rejected low- and moderate-income residents for construction grants of up to $150,000 at rates much higher than the state average. Meanwhile, applicants with higher incomes were approved -- also at rates greater than average.
The governor is always the FACE of the crisis. Should that money also be used for campaign advertising?


Suzanne O (33)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 1:49 pm
I'll just point out again that many governors advertise tourism in their states.

Kit, like I said I think following where any of our tax dollars go is a good thing and should be done in every instance.

All I know is what my insurance didn't pay, came out of my pocket. Pockets that are quite empty I might add.

I welcome follow up on monies allocated and being spent. I don't welcome accusations that may or may not be worthy. That may or may not originate because of genuine concern.

Pallone should have had his eye on the ball during Corzine's reign of terror. Not a peep.

Suzanne O (33)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 2:53 pm


Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 4:00 pm

I have no answers for New Jersey, it seems that politicians there are as ready to take advantage of the citizens as in many other states.

. (0)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 4:42 pm
More good news. Thanks for sharing, Kit.

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:40 pm
Can't recall a CA governor ever being the face of CA tourism and most would say we have more in that arena than NJ. In CA to reject the lower bidder would require formal, detailed, specific justification of why the lower bid could not meet that stated purpose in the request for bids/proposals--and for federal money that has always been required. The FBI would have access to that and the news already states the winning bidder had personal connections to the governor.

Next door NY's is described at:

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7:42 pm
P.S. and remember that CA elected two Hollywood actors to be Governor (Ronnie and Arnie)...

Robert K (31)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 8:04 pm
When the pig's in prison I'll toast the Justice Dep't. Until then, just hoping the NJ federal attorney is more conscientious than Christie was when he let his buddies off and went after others like a scorpion.

Tanya Selth (0)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 10:16 pm
Corruption is everywhere

James Maynard (84)
Tuesday January 14, 2014, 10:29 pm
Would it be a double-entendre if I said
I was quoting Teddy Roosevelt in saying
"Bully!, Bully!"

Mitchell D (87)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 8:15 am
Apparently, this putz has been trying to cement the perception that he is in contention for the nomination by the GOPutz party for president. He bullied various mayors in the state, (Union City, Harrison) to get their endorsement for Governor, and then rewarded them with funding. Does this happen all over? Maybe, but we do not have to quietly allow it to continue.
The very nature of his tactics shows that he has a twisted, unethical personality, making him unsuitable for any office.
What, am I a dreamer, utterly devoid of any recognition that one can not find a politician unlike Mr. C.?
There seem to be some that are unlike Mr. Clown...and I/we do not have to settle!

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 10:32 am

"Christie is not the first New Jersey governor to star in tourism ads, a practice that famously includes then-Gov. Tom Kean (R) strolling along the Shore in the 1980s. Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) walked the shoreline in the 1990s, and Govs. Donald DiFrancesco (R) and Jim McGreevey (D) starred with their wives in ads over the last decade.

Other states have adopted the same practice. Then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) starred in tourism commercials with first lady Maria Shriver. New York first lady Libby Pataki appeared on posters promoting the state's agriculture industry when her husband, Republican George Pataki, was governor."

JLA Looks like your gov and first lady did the same.

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 10:35 am
Mitchell, are you this upset when it is the other side doing it? Surely you don't suggest that they are innocent of political payback. Do you?

Brian Stack has been with the Governor pretty much from the beginning. He doesn't really play ball well with the other democrats in Hudson County. That is a big no-no....

Kit B (276)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 10:51 am

Political pay back, that's normal politics in the US.

Mitchell D (87)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 10:53 am
Suzanne, I thought that I indicated that this is a common practice, but that does not mean i have to like it, or think it is ethical.
I know, ethics and politics do not necessarily combine, but it seems that in some instances they can, and do.
Christy's thing about working to get those democratic mayors' approval, was to show the GOP that he is capable of attracting minority votes, but the manipulation gives the lie to that.

Vivian B (169)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 10:59 am

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 11:17 am
Mitchell, sure Governor Christie wanted to show that and he did. New Jersey is a very liberal state and Governor Christie still to this day holds high approval ratings amongst the voters. The last I heard this morning was still 55% of the voters.

I grew up in Hudson County, no dirtier politics than there. I don't remember ever having a republican mayor or governor in my town at all. Actually, I can recall a few of them winding up in jail.

I would love to see ethics and true commitment from our politicians. I actually fight for that in our state almost daily. I contact all of them, all the time. Including Governor Christie. I don't agree with any of them all of the time at all. I just think what is happening here is not true concern but absolute attempts at political annihilation. To me on the level it is happening in this case is crazy when no one ever uttered a peep in the past Surely there have been much worse things in the past.

I am not making excuses for any one. If there was wrong doing. So be it. He should suffer the consequences. However, when someone like Frank Pallone opens his mouth with innuendo, I just know deep down where it comes from.

New Jerseyans deserve much better than normal practice as usual politics. We are being killed in this state but that also has been the norm for way too long.

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 11:19 am
In fairness to this ad taking place. In New Jersey at least our Governors love to prance on the shore promoting it. Also he got the waiver for the funds. I don't see anything irregular or illegal with it.

I would love to see every bid proposal put forth for government related jobs. I think that would prove quite interesting indeed. I don't just mean from the Christie administration at all.

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 11:37 am

"There was another difference between the firms. MWW had made 234 corporate contributions totaling $201,300 to candidates and political committees from both parties in New Jersey since 1987. Sigma was not politically active."

Both parties were on the receiving end of the contributions. I'd like to see that breakdown.

"From the creative side we had to decide who is the strongest voice communicating that we're back from the storm, and the governor has been that voice. We put out this very huge concept that included having the governor's office involved loud and clear," Eis said.

Murray declined to comment beyond his statement.

When questioned about the campaign last summer, Christie said he had no input into the TV ad campaign.

"I certainly have no second thoughts about it," Christie said in August. "I didn't make the decision, but I certainly don't second-guess the decision."

Governor Christie was the face of the Jersey Shore and Sandy. He was.

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 11:39 am

Sorry, this is the link for the above comments.

Jason R (67)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 12:49 pm
TRENTON — Subpoenas will be issued Thursday to players in the “Bridgegate” scandal, the chairman of the state Assembly’s special investigative panel says.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, also said former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar will serve as special counsel for the probe into the politically motived George Washington Bridge lane closures that engulfed Fort Lee in September.

SPECIAL REPORT: Bridgegate scandal in NJ

Schar was the lead investigator and prosecutor in both corruption trials of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the last U.S. governor to face impeachment….

Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years - Carbonated.TV
The Blagojeviches were greeted by a mob of reporters, ... Earlier Wednesday, offering a final argument for a sentence of 15 to 20 years, assistant U.S. attorney Reid Schar had disputed the contention by Blagojevich's lawyers on Tuesday that the former governor's actions never hurt anyone.


Kit B (276)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 1:38 pm

I know someone from Illinois that adored Blogojevich, from her point of view he was working on the issues that mattered to her family.

I think the situation with the George Washington bridge was poorly handled. I wonder if all of that had more to do with the new developments in Fort Lee. Christie's apology was not well done, because it was not believable. Then again, I rarely accept the apology of any politician. I have long taken the attitude that something not altogether healthy lives within those who seek office.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 1:41 pm

I would have to say that a waiver of any kind for the use of crisis funds as campaign fodder runs against the grain. Far too many people still have not seen one dime for help and each campaign ad did cost money from that fund.

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 2:12 pm
It is a shame that Sandy happened when she did.

These ads focused on the shore just like every other ad ever put out by any of our Governors. Tourism is a driver for their economy.

These were not political touting anything.

The hard right and the liberals forget the truth of how bad Hurricane Sandy was. Governor Christie stood by us and he fought just as hard to get relief funds, materials etc for our state as anyone else, if not more.


Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 6:17 pm
I read in another thread someone had posed the question in an accusing manner about the money raised through Mrs. Christie's Sandy Relief fund.

Here you go

Suzanne O (33)
Wednesday January 15, 2014, 6:21 pm

Mitchell D (87)
Thursday January 16, 2014, 5:02 pm
Suzanne, rather than being naive, as you seem to think I may be, my failure may be in my wish to see, perceive, common human decency in those who represent me in government. I know that I can't always, perhaps even often, get that, but it is my prerogative to support those in whom I think i see it.
This is what once created quite a political stir, when Edward R. Murrow, asked Sen. Joe McCarthy, "Have you no decency?"
I do not see it in Christie, did not see it in G.W.Bush, still do not, and Christie seems to want nothing more than to be the next GOP President.

Suzanne O (33)
Thursday January 16, 2014, 6:47 pm
Mitchell, I don't think you naive. I think you just see it from different angles. I look for common decency as well. Being from Jersey, you know we have not had that in the past. Unless you suggest we have.

To me, Corzine was the worst. The pain he inflicted on us in the form of taxes and fees were without doubt the beginning of the end for the middle class in this state. Private sector small business regulations, fees, etc. It hurt. Although, I didn't vote for him, when he was elected I held out hope and was willing to accept he won. No biggie.

But I will never forget his closure of state parks on the Fourth of July. Kicking families out from their bar-b-ques and camping trips and such. I know first hand because at about 3pm that day the rangers found us, kicked us out and then barricaded the entrance with cement blocks. Of course, Liberty State Park remained open. He couldn't dare shut that down in solidarity with all the others.

Every year that man on top of all the pain he caused would threaten in his budget address to close certain parks, generally in republican stronghold areas. He is the reason I became so active in this state. Those parks are the playgrounds for the middle and lower classes that can not afford vacations. Our place for peaceful contemplation. Our second homes. For all he did and for all he was, to me that act may have been the most unkind.

I agree that Christie appears to have his eye on the wrong prize at this time. I want him to concentrate on home and not nation. I have let him know that too. I think he became bigger than the man he was and has had a reality check. I hope he has. I don't think he orchestrated this bridge thing at all. It makes no sense. The Fort Lee Mayor is of no relevance. Even Loretta Weinberg is of no relevance. She is what she is and he is what he is and neither will change. They both know it.

I think he probably learned of it at a different time other than what he says but still I don't know that for sure and we will see.

You have to admit Wisniewski who had his eye on becoming our next Senator and now I believe our next Governor certainly is not without political maneuvering in all this. Same thing for Pallone. None of them are innocent. They all have bigger goals and party loyalties. The people of New Jersey are not their main goal.

It is politics as usual, just with the parties mixed up a bit.

I think it is awful though to accuse Governor Christie with such certainty of misappropriating funds and accusing his wife of doing the same with the Sandy relief donations. I really think that is out of line and without merit at this point. You know government takes their sweet time in everything they do. I welcome these investigations no matter what the end result.

There is one thing I can say about Christie, I believe he does love New Jersey. I don't think he is a bully. He is like the people I deal with every day. It's just from where we come. Our manner of speech, our way of relaying it. Direct and honest. You will always know where we stand. It's the norm for our part of Jersey.

You be well.

Helen Porter (39)
Tuesday January 21, 2014, 8:05 pm
tongue in cheek....
Governor Chris Christie

Governor Christy will never make it into the upper leagues of politics.

To qualify, you not only have to commit the crimes BUT
you have to get away with them,

at least until you set your buns on a traitor's chair. .

Suzanne O (33)
Saturday January 25, 2014, 4:00 pm

Oh no... It would seem Mayor Zimmer has been threatened before. This poor woman whatever will she do next...


Zimmer had accused officials of making a back room deal and then pressuring her to do something that was detrimental to Hoboken. No, it isn’t the latest scandal but rather an incident that happened in April 2011. It has nothing to do with the mayor’s recent declaration about Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and State Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable allegedly holding up Superstorm Sandy relief funding from Hoboken until the city provides approvals for a politically connected development.

In 2011, Zimmer issued a public statement attacking Union City Mayor and 33rd Legislative District Sen. Brian Stack. It read:

“Yesterday, I received an extremely troubling telephone call from Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who is also Hoboken’s sate senator,” Zimmer said in a statement released on Wednesday morning. “Senator/Mayor Stack, who over the past year has almost never returned my phone calls relating to important governmental matters like our hospital, was calling to threaten me politically.”

The Hoboken mayor said Stack liked to interfere in Hoboken by providing campaign money to “developer friendly candidates.” She said there was a “back room deal” between Stack and the then chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, who allegedly decides whom can run on the HCDeadO primary line.

At the time, Stack was angry at what he saw as Zimmer’s meddling in the selection of an assembly candidate. Stack had selected Mile Square City Housing Authority head Carmelo Garcia. Zimmer’s Councilman Ravi Bhalla was planning to run and some of his supporters succeeded in knocking the housing director off the ballot in superior court, but the ruling was overturned in state appellate court. Garcia ran under the HCDeadO banner and won.

During the fray, Zimmer pretty much called the county Democrats a boys club and that she was being treated differently than the other 11 mayors. It is true that Smith is not crazy about her. If it is any consolation, today, Guadagno probably feels the same way that both Zimmer and Smith felt.

Suzanne O (33)
Saturday January 25, 2014, 4:16 pm
If you notice in the first part of the story I listed above. Hudson County itself is very slow in distributing the money slowly distributed by the state. I did find it interesting that part of the reason was they thought many of these people didn't live in Jersey City because for vehicle insurance purposes they listed their address as a shore address. Secondary homes are not qualified to get funds. They shouldn't be. However, the interesting thing to me is these people listed the shore addresses because insurance is cheaper down that way. Isn't that insurance fraud.

Suzanne O (33)
Saturday January 25, 2014, 4:46 pm
I thought I posted this so if it comes up double please forgive me. If you read through all of the stories you will notice that now there is talk of a Freeholder position with Zimmer;s name on it. For someone who has not friends in the democratic party as she suggests, that is pretty remarkable. You don''t get that for nothing...Hmmm

Suzanne O (33)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 12:35 pm

Read this article. The more I learn of Zimmer, the more I realize she is a whiner who when she doesn't get her way seems to make up facts as she would like to believe they are. She also seems like she will be rewarded for seemingly taking Christie out of the 2016 picture.

I will tell you Hoboken has a base of pretty rich people living within her borders. You want special projects, tax your people. Sandy effected 85% of NJ. Many areas that are not as wealthy as Hoboken. They deserve more or better than others.

Grow some balls Zimmer and figure out how to help your town without taking the rest of NJ for granted. Honestly, at first I was a bit hesitant on what to think. More and more I think she is full of shyte.

Suzanne O (33)
Sunday January 26, 2014, 2:35 pm

All I will say is hmm This article just out now...

"The July 2013 deposition, obtained by The Star-Ledger, leaves room for speculation on what type of journal Zayas was asking about.

“When you have meetings regarding day-to-day activities involving Hoboken business with your department heads, do you memorialize any of the conversation that takes place yourself?” Zayas asked in the deposition.

Zimmer replied, “No, I don’t transcribe it.”

Zayas then asked if she writes “notes in a calendar or some sort of memo pad that says follow up on a text or this was said during this meeting; anything that would help you recall what was said during the course of the meeting?”

Zimmer replied, “No, I don’t.”

The diary entries regarding Christie would have been made roughly three months prior to the deposition.

Zayas, a former New York City prosecutor, said he believes that Zimmer did keep a diary because Alicea, his client, claimed to have seen her writing in it during city meetings. He said her answers in the deposition bring Zimmer’s credibility into question.

“She’s inconsistent,” Zayas said. “She waffles.”

Not to mention she cost her town $1 million in a wrongful firing. The guy met with Dwek but never took money. He wasn't a crook apparently like the rest were. Maybe she could have used that $1 million toward her flood prevention plan she keeps whining about.
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